Esperance rangers assist pest control effort

Esperance Tjaltjraak Ranger Hayleigh Graham and her colleagues have assisted
DPIRD to undertake trapping at strategic locations near Esperance.
Esperance Tjaltjraak Ranger Hayleigh Graham and her colleagues have assisted DPIRD to undertake trapping at strategic locations near Esperance.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development have stepped up the state’s annual starling surveillance program, employing Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation rangers to assist officers in trapping the pest birds east of Esperance.

The department have run the surveillance and management program in the state’s south-east since 1971 in a bid to prevent the encroachment of the pest birds from South Australia.

Last season saw more than 160 of the invasive birds trapped in Eucla, almost four times the ten-year average of between 42 and 45.

A total of 55 starlings have already been trapped since August 2018, prompting the placement of 72 traps from west of Hopetoun to east of Condingup.

Department biosecurity officer Darren Dixon said the figures indicated that the 2018/19 season was likely to yield a higher than average result and the employment of rangers enhanced trapping during the fledgling of juvenile starlings.

“The employment of Tjaltjraak rangers has enabled enhanced trapping over the October to December period to coincide with the fledgling of juvenile starlings,” he said.

“Because the threat of starlings into WA is constant, the department recruited and trained Tjaltjraak rangers to undertake trapping using live lure birds at strategic locations near Esperance.

“Feral animal management is an aspect of the state government’s Aboriginal Ranger Program to create jobs and training and community development opportunities.”

The birds are small to medium in size and feed on cultivated grain and horticultural crops, disperse weeds, foul wool and can displace native birds.

Starlings have since established populations in many countries outside their natural range of Europe, Asia and North Africa.

Adult starlings have distinctive glossy black feathers with an iridescent green and purple sheen and can appear plain black from a distance.

Young birds, seen mainly in spring and summer, are a mouse-brown colour but are patchy brown and black in appearance during autumn when they moult to adult plumage.

The community are urged to report any unusual activity, such as birds on the back of livestock or groups of black birds flying in tight groups, by contacting the Pest and Disease Information Service on +61 (0)8 9368 3080 or emailing padis@dpird.wa.gov.au