The early arrival of the 13 Orange-bellied parrots recorded returning to Tasmania are an encouraging sign for the breeding season ahead, Minister for Environment Greg Hunt said today.
Mr Hunt said he was delighted to report the sightings of the seven males and six females after a busy few months of work to assist the species.
“Last year a total of 35 wild, adult birds returned to Melaleuca at the start of the last season, including captive-bred birds that had been released the previous breeding season. That was 94 percent increase on the number of adult birds returning from the season before.”
“These fantastic outcomes are thanks to the collaboration of a wide range of specialists.
“Australian, Tasmanian, Victorian and South Australian governments with members of the Recovery Team, BirdLife Australia, Friends of the Orange-bellied parrot, university, zoos and diseases and wildlife scientists are working to give the species the greatest chance of survival,” Mr Hunt said.
Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews said following the workshop he chaired earlier this year, a range of actions to be implemented to assist the species was identified.
“These are focused on: boosting the captive breeding and release program; adjusting management practices in the species habitat and in the captive breeding facilities; investing in more science to better understand beak and feather disease and its effect on the parrot; improving the governance among the group and communicating together.
“There has been a wonderful response from all areas of the team to assist the species and it is encouraging for all of us to have these early arrivals.”
Environment Parks and Heritage Minister Matthew Groom said Tasmania was pleased to be playing such an important role in the co-operative program.
“Departmental staff have just completed a range of preparations at the wild breeding ground at Melaleuca including actions which incorporated advice from a Veterinary Technical Reference Group formed out of the emergency response workshop.
“The work undertaken at Melaleuca includes installation of re-designed artificial nesting boxes, installation of additional nest boxes on trees and a trial of nesting boxes on poles as well as preparation of supplementary feeding infrastructure.
“There is also work underway to prepare captive bred birds for release, which as well is being undertaken based on the latest advice from the Veterinary Technical Reference Group.
“Captive bred birds identified for release are currently in quarantine and final decisions on numbers for release will be based on ongoing health screening results.
“While it is recognised that the beak and feather disease is an ongoing risk for the species, a range of measures have been identified and implemented that can assist in minimising the risk as far as possible.
“The wild population and captive release birds will be monitored throughout the breeding season by Departmental staff and a band of dedicated volunteers. A range of other actions will also be implemented to assist the survival and boost the productivity of the birds in both wild and captive populations.
“Our Government and Department staff are very pleased to be able to work as part of the overall team working to ensure the ongoing survival of this endangered species.