The willful destruction of two eggs belonging to a pair of Tweed shire’s rare and endangered Bush Stone-curlew at Salt Village near Kingscliff on Sunday afternoon has upset residents working to protect them.
Authorities have warned that anyone aught destroying such eggs face a maximum fine of more than $200,000.
The destruction of the eggs came only weeks after a breeding Bush Stone-curlew adult was struck and killed by a vehicle at the village and days after another curlew was killed by a vehicle on Tweed Coast Road at Casuarina.
The damaged eggs were discovered in a car park at the village by one of the residents who had maintained a vigil to protect the pair of parent Bush Stone-curlews and their eggs.
The breeding pair of birds are among a few pairs of endangered Bush Stone-Curlews who have been nesting along the Tweed Coast.
Council and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have appealed for anyone who might have information about the destruction of the eggs to contact them.
NPWS Tweed-Kyogle acting area manager Jen Atkins said Bush Stone-curlews (Burhinus grallarius) are listed as endangered in NSW under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
‘It is an offence under section 118 of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 to harm a threatened species or its habitat,’ Ms Atkins said.
‘The maximum penalty for harming an endangered species, including its eggs, is $220,000 and/or two years’ imprisonment. An additional $11,000 fine per egg may also be imposed,’ she said.
‘NPWS is keen to hear from anyone who may know anything about this incident. Please call the Murwillumbah office on 02 6670 8600 or the EnviroLine on 131 555.
‘All information will be treated in the strictest of confidence.’
The resident who found the damaged eggs, Michelle Phillips, said she had been looking after Bush Stone-curlews at Salt Village since she moved there nine years ago.
‘Because of development in the area, these birds are running out of places to go to be safe,’ she said.
‘We need people to stay away from them and not interfere with them.’
Council program leader Pam Gray said Sunday’s discovery was extremely upsetting for the residents who had kept a close watch to protect the curlews at Salt, especially following the recent road deaths of the birds there.
‘There are so few Bush Stone-curlews left in this area and just when it seems like we’re making headway to increase their numbers, there’s a setback that further threatens the local population,’ Ms Gray said.
‘Communities along the coast have been amazing in supporting Bush Stone-curlews in their areas and it’s so disappointing when something like this happens and the hard work is undone. It is just so sad.’