Corella culling to commence in Northam following failed attempts of region wide strategy

Corella culling to commence in Northam following failed attempts of region wide strategy

Despite deciding to postpone the culling of a pest bird in May last year to await a region wide plan, Shire of Northam councillors have voted to begin their own culling of the species.

Councillors endorsed recommendations from Shire staff to authorise the commencement of an annual culling program for the butlers corella within the Shire of Northam by licenced and experienced contractors.

But the decision was not made without debate.

In a report presented to councillors, executive manager development services Chadd Hunt said the birds had caused damage and nuisance within the Shire over recent years.

"The issue is obviously not isolated to the Shire however a number of other local authorities have developed a management plan in order to assist with the control of the birds in their local area," the report read.

"Council has previously obtained a licence from the then Department of Parks and Wildlife to control and scare birds in 2015.

"However, due to restrictions regarding the use of firearms this proved difficult to implement.

"Since then various attempts have been made to manage the Corella issue with limited success."

Most recently ranger services had used various methods including starter pistols to disturb the nesting corellas to no avail.

Mr Hunt said various attempts had been made to coordinate a regional approach to the management of corellas with the Avon Regional Organisation of Councils (AROC) and surrounding shires with little success.

He said there had been general support for a regionally collaborative approach however there had been no plans or strategies put in place.

The recommendation to establish a culling program was moved by councillor Michael Ryan who said he had to think long and hard about which way he would be voting.

Mr Ryan said the corellas were 'unfortunately quite destructive' in large numbers and that culling was a good short term plan while a collaborative approach across the region was continued to be explored.

Councillor Julie Williams was vocal in her disapproval for the culling process.

Last year Mrs Williams suggested to postpone the decision and said she was disappointed that it had taken this long and that other local governments were not on board.

She said she understood that there needed to be some control of the species but could not live with herself if she voted in support of the culling.

At a council meeting on March 25 last year, neighbouring local government, the Shire of York voted to commence an annual culling program of the Butlers Corella and Little Corella on local government property.

Then-Shire president Dave Wallace said the culling would be carried out with firearms, used by authorised shooters before 7am and after 5pm to minimise the risk to the community.

It iwas proposed that the Shire of York would advise residents within close proximity to culling locations via a letter drop.

In his report, Mr Hunt said the corellas had caused significant damage within the Shire of Northam to playing surfaces, native vegetation and $20,000 worth of damage to CCTV networks.

"Previous attempts at relocating them have not been successful and staff are of the opinion that culling, in association with other control measures is the only viable alternative," Mr Hunt said.

"The engagement of a suitably qualified, experienced and insured contractor is seen as being the most practical and safe option to pursue.

"The undertaking of a regional coordinate approach is seen as a sound long term solution however staff are concerned that delaying any action whilst waiting for the regional approach will result in the problem escalating."

The recommendation was carried eight votes to two, with an initial cost to council of up to $11,000 to contract out the culling.

A start date is yet to be announced.

What do you think of the decision to cull corellas in the Shire of Northam? Send a letter to eliza.wynn@avonadvocate.com.au.