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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

WIRES ‘disappointed’ that Ballina Council won’t let ducklings hatch

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Ballina Shire Council has responded to further questions regarding the wood ducks nest from Echonetdaily stating that:’

‘It is Council’s preference to transfer the eggs to the care of a licenced wildlife carer or group.

‘If that is not possible, Council has identified a potential site that is suitable for the relocation of the eggs. Relocating eggs is compliant with the terms of the National Parks and Wildlife Service permit.

‘As the removal of the tree is largely completed, the tree in its current state is a safety risk. The tree removal will continue after the eggs have been relocated.

‘During these final stages a licenced fauna consultant will be onsite to monitor the presence of other native wildlife.

‘A factsheet providing an overview of this complex issue can be found on Council’s website ballina.nsw.gov.au

 Original story

WIRES Northern Rivers (WIRES NR) have stated that they are disappointed  that Ballina Council are removing the wood ducks nest located in the 200 year old fig tree at Castle Drive in Lennox Head following the discovery of the nest deep in the hollow of the tree.

‘WIRES NR was consulted about removing the eggs and advice given by their Bird Coordinator with 15 years experience, Melanie Barsony, that moving the eggs to another location would not work,’ they said in a statement this morning.

‘Birds recognise their nest position, not the eggs and the parent birds will abandon the eggs if the nest site is destroyed. Raising ducks from eggs is very problematic as they imprint so readily. This is especially so with Wood Duck who nest in tree hollows.’

National Parks and Wildlife have now provided Ballina Council with a licence to remove the duck nest. Council has identified a suitable relocation site for the nest. Under the terms of the licence, Council may also transfer custody of the nest to a licensed wildlife carer.

However WIRES NR have said that ‘Wildlife carers are trained to raise wild animals, not pets. An imprinted duck will be unlikely to survive in the wild.

‘Council agreed to leave coverage of branches over the hollow and there was talk of leaving the tree until after the ducklings has hatched.

WIRES NR received a call yesterday to inform us that under the new NSW Biodiversity Laws, Ballina Council has now been granted a ‘Licence to Harm’, which gives them permission to remove the eggs and continue work removing the rest of the tree. This Licence to Harm allows three options:

1. Take eggs and get a wildlife care group to attempt to raise them

2. Relocate eggs into a surrogate nest where the parent ducks or other ducks MAY take over raising them

3. Euthanasia

‘The new NSW Biodiversity Laws have removed existing protection for wildlife, and events such as these are likely to increase in the future.

‘WIRES Northern Rivers is extremely disappointed that the decision has been made to remove the duck eggs and urges Ballina Council to wait a few weeks to allow the ducklings to hatch.

Why are they removing the fig?

Ballina Council have released a fact sheet on the removal of the fig tree stating that councils insurers will no longer insure the tree following ‘multiple successful claims’. They state that the cost of tree root barriers would be $150,000; the possible relocation of the tree is estimated at $450,000; and the purchase of impacted properties would be around $1.6 million.

‘The original subdivision for Castle Drive was approved by Ballina Shire Council in May 1980. That subdivision approval did not provide a reasonable buffer between the fig tree (on Council land) and the newly created private lots and there were no restrictions on the title relating to the fig tree.

‘Since that time, changes have been made to planning controls recognising the contribution of mature trees, which ensures this will not occur in the future.’

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  1. The very least they can do is allow the ducks the time they need and then cut down what remains.

    Again, will Ballina Council explain what the rush is ??? The tree roots won’t grow anymore in just a few weeks !

  2. How long would it take for the ducklings to hatch? Surely not that long that it would result in a damages claim! The duck and ducklings could then be relocated! Surely!

  3. This is utterly shameful that bureaucracy should lead to the destruction of such a landmark tree. That a driveway will over a living entity.
    ‘As the removal of the tree is largely completed, the tree in its current state is a safety risk.”
    Who is spouting this rubbish?


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