“That’s simple instead of running around with golf clubs and spades, plastic bags and suffocating and pouring stuff on them – it’s just not working.”
Mr Katter has significantly upped the ante on Pauline Hanson’s call for a 10c toad bounty, a day after the One Nation leader revealed her three-month plan to punish pests.
Mr Katter’s calls come days after One Nation leader Pauline Hanson called for a 10c cane toad bounty, also urging children to help reduce the numbers of the pest. (9NEWS)
“All those people out there, ‘Work for the Dole’ doing absolutely nothing, or even kids on holidays, put down the iPads, get out there, collect the cane toads, take them to your local council, put them in the freezer, get rid of them and clean up our environment,” she told the TODAY Show this week.
But the Queensland politicians’ competing cash-for-cane-toad schemes could struggle to get off the ground with state and federal governments unlikely to hop on board.
Experts have also expressed their doubts over the plans. Professor Rob Capon from the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience told 9News a bounty on toads was simply “not practical”.
Cane toads have had huge impacts on native animals, particularly in Queensland, after being introduced from Hawaii in 1935 in a failed bid to eradicate beetles. (ACT Parks and Conservation Service)
“From an ecological point of view it’s unlikely to have an impact on the cane toad population. On a practical level there are all manner of problems,” he said.
Cane toads have had a huge impact on native animals since being introduced from Hawaii in 1935 in a failed bid to eradicate beetles infesting sugar cane and spreading across most of northern Australia.
When high-flying global entrepreneur Richard Branson announced in 2014 he was giving up beef for the good of the planet, Australian Farm Institute director Mick Keogh couldn’t resist having a dig at his integrity and mental competence.
“Is Mr Branson a knave or a fool?” asked Keogh, now deputy commissioner of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, wondering whether the Virgin Airlines founder was perhaps deliberately deflecting public attention away from his own commercial activities by demonising meat and cattle production.
“If Mr Branson is truly concerned about this issue and not just seeking publicity, he should look at his own business first rather than pointing a finger at beef,” Keogh said.
Branson said he had been forced into vegetarianism by his concern that meat consumption — and so livestock farming — was causing global warming, environmental degradation, Amazonian jungle deforestation and water wastage. He also said keeping cattle in barns and intensive systems such as feedlots where they are fed grain were wasteful and worsening global warming.
Keogh pointed out that greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock production contribute between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of total human-related carbon emissions, which are leading to harmful global warming and climate change.
In contrast, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found the transport sector worldwide — planes, cars and trucks combined — contributes a massive 22 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions (second only to power generation), a figure growing at the rate of 2.5 per cent a year.
Keogh also noted that a one-way flight between London and Sydney added 3500kg of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases per person to the atmosphere, while CO2-equivalent emissions associated with producing a 100g beef hamburger were 1kg.
“The IPCC itself has stated that reducing travel distances, moving to energy-efficient vehicles and non-fossil fuels and avoiding unnecessary travel are (among) the most promising mitigation strategies to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions,” said Keogh, querying why Branson’s evangelism for reducing greenhouse gases did not extend this far.
This week, when the latest IPCC report came out on how the world could limit damaging global temperature increases to less than an average 1.5C — a target that needs to be achieved by 2050 if irreparable and lasting climate change is to be prevented — abandoning or limiting meat consumption was again listed as a top-10 mitigation strategy
It is also, worryingly for Australia’s $18.5 billion red meat industry and 82,500 sheep and cattle farmers, becoming a refrain that is accepted without question within the wider community: that eating meat is damaging the environment.
To western Victoria cattle and sheep farmer Mark Wootton, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Together with his partner Eve Kantor, Wootton farms 3500ha of lush green pastures in the western foothills of the Grampians north of Hamilton, where they run more than 25,000 merino sheep for their wool and meat lambs, and 800 cattle.
The couple, together with Kantor’s family, helped found the Climate Institute think tank and policy group — credited with encouraging changed business and community attitudes towards the urgent need to limit greenhouse gas emissions — and they believe climate change remains the biggest threat to their own, and Australia’s, agricultural activities.
“But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it,” says Wootton. “For us, that meant testing the theory that Australian farmers can run their properties and businesses in a way that is carbon neutral — or even positive — in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, but that is still about normal farming practices and highly productive.”
Since 2001, Wootton and Kantor have set about boosting the carbon stored on their Jigsaw Farms properties, while also working with Melbourne University professor Richard Eckard to measure — and endeavour to reduce — all the carbon emissions associated with their farming operations to the point where they became a zero carbon business.
For the couple, that meant planting thousands of trees on their farms while also investing in solar power, to offset the carbon emitted as methane by their livestock and their heavy use of pasture fertilisers and fuel.
Against expectations, Wootton says livestock-carrying capacity and returns have actually increased, while more than 37,000 tonnes of carbon was sequestrated in their growing trees in 14 years, putting the business well on the way to becoming carbon-neutral.
Such stories are music to the ears of Richard Norton, chief executive of Meat & Livestock Australia.
Rare among nations, industries or even agricultural producer groups, the MLA ambitiously decided more than a decade ago that it would commit Australia’s red meat industry to being carbon-neutral by 2030: a big ask given the large amounts of methane emitted daily by Australia’s 28 million cattle and 70 million sheep because of their rumen digestive systems.
“No one thought it was feasible but already we have reduced total emissions by the red meat industry by 45 per cent between 2005 and 2015, according to CSIRO, mainly by genetic improvements that mean the animals we farm today grow quicker and are more efficient converters of grass to meat,” Norton says.
There is no dispute in the academic and climate change world that livestock is one of the biggest contributors to carbon gas build-up in the atmosphere and total global greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore a key driver of global warming.
The latest report by the IPCC attributes 14 per cent of all emissions to agriculture. The bulk — contributing 10 per cent of harmful emissions — come from livestock production, mostly dairy and beef cattle belching and farting methane (a harmful greenhouse gas, like carbon dioxide).
While figures vary depending on farming systems and feed, numerous studies have shown beef cattle emit 50-90kg of methane a year, dairy cows 100-150kg a year and sheep about 8kg.
On the positive side, methane is a short-lived pollutant; it lasts in the atmosphere for 12 years after production while a kilogram of CO2 will linger for more than a century. But the harmful effect of 1kg of methane emissions on potential warming is 36 times worse than CO2 over a 100-year period.
Eckard, an animal production professor and director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre, says the magnified impact of methane on short-term global warming is the reason the IPCC report suggests cutting meat intake would be one of the biggest and best changes individuals and society can make.
“It’s low-hanging fruit — a get-out-of-jail card free, if you like, as far as the IPCC report goes,” he says. “Livestock is the biggest single easiest way to reduce methane emissions; each kilogram of methane produced now has 86 times the impact of a kilogram of carbon dioxide on global warming, so if you immediately start to cut methane emissions from one major source, it’s going to have a quicker impact on the IPCC aim of limiting global temperature increases to below 1.5 degrees by 2050.”
The big impact of animal farming on the warming atmosphere is made worse because, with estimates the world’s population will grow by nearly three billion by 2050, red meat consumption and demand is set to take off. Global meat production is projected to double from 229 million tonnes in 2000 to 465 million tonnes in 2050 to meet the new demand for red meat, while annual milk and dairy output is set to climb from 580 million to 1043 million tonnes.
The number of cattle needed to meet beef and dairy demand is expected to balloon from the present 1.5 billion to three billion, increasing calls for red meat consumption to be slashed to reduce the pace of climate change.
But Eckard argues that animal farming is being unfairly targeted.
“If, as an individual, you want to have an impact on climate change, do it in balance; there is no point in stopping eating red meat if you still drive a gas-guzzling 4WD and don’t have solar panels on your roof, because switching to a hybrid Prius and solar power will have just as big a benefit for the environment and world climate as turning vegetarian.”
Recent studies by Virginia Tech University also question whether plant-based diets equal sustainability and are the only route to reducing agriculture’s heavy global warming footprint.
As researcher Doug Liebe told this week’s BeefEx conference in Brisbane, it is easy for the impact of removing animals from the human food chain to be oversimplified and twisted.
The Virginia Tech studies show that if all animals were taken out of agricultural production — with the grain they had been fed directed to human consumption — the US could produce 23 per cent more human food. But the overall impact on greenhouse gas emissions would be significantly less — cutting US emissions by just 2.6 per cent — because animal-produced fertilisers used in farming would need to be replaced by synthetic ones.
Eight dead platypuses have been found in a bait trap by a group of teenagers who were clearing rubbish from a river in Melbourne’s west over the weekend.
Three girls were kayaking down the Werribee River on Saturday morning when they pulled the net from the water near the Davis Creek junction.
“They came up to the side of the bank and pulled up the rope and were of course horrified by this,” riverkeeper John Forrester said.
“One or two of [the platypuses] had been in the water for quite a few days… and so some of the carcasses had lost quite some hair, so hence as you might see on the photo, some of them are white — that’s their flesh.
“We had [another platypus trap death] with four or five in one net two years ago… but nothing like eight, no eight is just simply staggering.”
Mr Forrester said he suspected the net may have been set up to catch yabbies in the public waterway.
“The yabbies might be the intention of the net fisher, but unwittingly of course, platypus come in chasing the yabbies and naturally once inside that small cone at the top of the net, the platypus can’t get out.
“And of course they drown — they can last up to about two minutes, much like a human being in the water, without breath — but they must get out and they just can’t because the surrounds of the net from inside are completely sealed of course.
“And platypus aren’t the kind of creature that can eat its way out or chew its way out as it has no teeth.”
Australian farmers in New South Wales (NSW) are being given permission to kill increased numbers of larger species of kangaroos. There is already a kangaroo product industry that sees numbers of the animals hunted down for meat and leather, but now drought has decreased herbage required by both cattle and kangaroos.
Long ago, it was recognized that market hunting – killing wildlife for profit – was a fast track to extinction and thus not sustainable within capitalism, which demands continued growth in profits to work properly. But, so insatiable is the gastronomic demand for parts of dead animals that wild animals were simply replaced by domestic ones, which in turn are major sources of greenhouse gases. Animal protectionists have sought to convince environmentalists, including scientists able to understand complex processes that seem to challenge the cognitive abilities of the likes of U.S. president Donald Trump (who is still mired in denial over climate change), that reducing consumption of meat and dairy in favor of a more, even exclusively, plant-based diet is one of the easiest and most effective ways we have to reduce greenhouse gases.
No matter. Instead of attempting to reduce the source of the problem, the meat industry is instead encouraged, and kangaroos must give way so folks won’t have to think twice about their steaks and burgers.
There already is a commercial kangaroo hunt, but with regard NSW, Niall Blair, NSW Minister of Primary Industries, claims that without massive slaughter of kangaroos the kangaroos themselves will first eat all the food, and then starve. Such “pre-emptive euthanasia” is a commonly provided rationale for such culls. Major die-offs, both “natural” and human-caused, do occur in wildlife and natural selection generates adaptation to changing conditions, which are inevitable if we are so unable to control our own contribution to the problem, and clearly that is the case.
Put another way, we, not kangaroos, are the problem. Australia is earmarking $141 million to assist farmers, not only with compensation for lost income, but for mental health support. It will, however, not contribute to the solution to those parts of the problem we can influence, if only we had the intelligence and will to do so.
Sunday 9 April 2017 17.01 EDTLast modified on Sunday 9 April 2017 23.27 EDT
Back-to-back severe bleaching events have affected two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, new aerial surveys have found.
The findings have caused alarm among scientists, who say the proximity of the 2016 and 2017 bleaching events is unprecedented for the reef, and will give damaged coral little chance to recover.
Scientists with the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for CoralReef Studies last week completed aerial surveys of the world’s largest living structure, scoring bleaching at 800 individual coral reefs across 8,000km.
Mass bleaching – a phenomenon caused by global warming-induced rises to sea surface temperatures – has occurred on the reef four times in recorded history.
Prof Terry Hughes, who led the surveys, said the length of time coral needed to recover – about 10 years for fast-growing types – raised serious concerns about the increasing frequency of mass bleaching events.
“The significance of bleaching this year is that it’s back to back, so there’s been zero time for recovery,” Hughes told the Guardian. “It’s too early yet to tell what the full death toll will be from this year’s bleaching, but clearly it will extend 500km south of last year’s bleaching.”
But Hughes said its slow movement across the reef was likely to have caused destruction to coral along a path up to 100km wide. “It added to the woes of the bleaching. It came too late to stop the bleaching, and it came to the wrong place,” he said.
The University of Technology Sydney’s lead reef researcher, marine biologist David Suggett, said that to properly recover, affected reefs needed to be connected to those left untouched by bleaching.
He said Hughes’ survey results showed such connectivity was in jeopardy. “It’s that connection ultimately that will drive the rate and extent of recovery,” Suggett said. “So if bleaching events are moving around the [Great Barrier Reef] system on an annual basis, it does really undermine any potential resilience through connectivity between neighbouring reefs.”
He said measures to improve water quality, which were a central tenet of the Australian government’s rescue effort, were failing.
“We’ve given up. It’s been my life managing water quality, we’ve failed,” Brodie said. “Even though we’ve spent a lot of money, we’ve had no success.”
Brodie used strong language to describe the threats to the reef in 2017. He said the compounding effect of back-to-back bleaching, Cyclone Debbie, and run-off from nearby catchments should not be understated.
“Last year was bad enough, this year is a disaster year,” Brodie said. “The federal government is doing nothing really, and the current programs, the water quality management is having very limited success. It’s unsuccessful.”
Others remain optimistic, out of necessity. Jon Day was a director of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for 16 years until retiring in 2014.
Day, whose expertise lies in protected area planning and management, said the federal government’s approach to protecting the reef was sorely lacking. He said it was taking too relaxed an approach to fishing, run-off and pollution from farming, and the dumping of maintenance dredge spoil.
“You’ve got to be optimistic, I think we have to be,” Day said. “But every moment we waste, and every dollar we waste, isn’t helping the issue. We’ve been denying it for so long, and now we’re starting to accept it. But we’re spending insufficient amounts addressing the problem.”
The Queensland tourism industry raised questions about the reliability of the survey, saying scientists had previously made exaggerated claims about mortality rates and bleaching.
“There is no doubt that we have had a significant bleaching event off Cairns this time around,” said Col McKenzie, of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators.
“The far north probably did a little bit better, Port Douglas to Townsille has seen some significant bleaching,” he said. “Fortunately we haven’t seen much mortality at this time, and fortunately the temperatures have fallen.”
McKenzie said more money needed to be invested in water quality measures, and criticised what he saw as a piecemeal and uncoordinated approach to water quality projects up and down the coast.
File photo – Don Colgan, Head of the Evolutionary Biology Unit at the Australian Museum, speaks under a model of a Tasmanian Tiger at a media conference in Sydney as seen in this May 4, 2000 file photo regarding the quality DNA extracted from the heart, liver, muscle and bone marrow tissue samples of a 134 year-old Tiger specimen (R) preserved in alcohol. The last known Tasmanian Tiger died in 1936 after it was hunted down and wiped out in only 100 years of human settlement. (Reuters)
Multiple reports of Tasmanian Tiger sightings are starting to flow in from everyday citizens in Australia. Several people have recently claimed they’ve spotted the animal, which isn’t a tiger at all — and, despite looking very much like a species of dog, isn’t of canine lineage either — but a carnivorous marsupial. Spotting an interesting creature in Australia isn’t exactly a rare occurrence, but there’s one problem with these reports in particular: the Tasmanian Tiger is supposed to be extinct.
The last known Tasmanian Tiger was captured in its native Australia in 1933 and lived for a few years in a zoo before dying, and its death has long been thought to be the final nail in the species’ coffin. Australians have occasionally claimed to have spotted the dog-like animals over the years, but the sightings were typically rare and attributed to nothing more than misidentification. That’s all changed now, as several “plausible sightings” are beginning to give life to the theory that the animal never actually went extinct at all.
Now, scientists in Queensland, Australia, are taking action in the hopes of actually finding evidence that the Tiger is still around. If confirmed, it would be an absolutely monumental discovery, considering the animal’s history. The team plans to set up cameras in areas where reported sightings have taken place in the hopes of confirming the claims.
In the late 1800s there were actually bounties on Tasmanian Tigers in Australia, and the creatures were hunted to the brink of extinction before any action was taken. By that point, the species was thought to be doomed, and when the last captive animal died it was assumed that was the end of the road. Now, it appears that might not be the case after all.
An Australian man caught on camera punching a kangaroo in the face has been criticised for his actions, after it was revealed he is a zookeeper.
Greig ‘Goo’ Tonkins became an internet star after the clip came to light, which shows him rescuing his dog Max from a kangaroo’s headlock by firing a brutal right hook at its snout.
The footage was filmed in Euabalong, New South Wales back in June during a boar-hunting trip for a friend with terminal cancer who has since died.
After the video was shared around the world, animal rights groups condemned Mr Tonkins’ actions.
They’re calling for him to lose his job as an elephant keeper at Western Plains Zoo in New South Wales.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told Australian Regional Media that Mr Tonkins should not be “made out to be a national hero”, but rather prosecuted.
“Punching a kangaroo in the face is neither brave nor funny,” the group said.
Mr Tonkins also drew derision from the Humane Society International Australia, who said their efforts to rescue circus elephants in India is undermined if “we can’t even look after our own species here”.
“It is very disturbing of someone of this character has a position [at Western Plains Zoo]. They would have no trouble filling it with someone who respects animals,” they said.
The zoo disagrees, however, and says Mr Tonkins’ job is safe.
“Mr Tonkins is an experienced zookeeper and during his six years at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has always followed Taronga’s best practice approach to animal care and welfare,” said a zoo spokesperson.
“We continue to work with Mr Tonkins on his conduct in regards to this incident.”
Matthew Amor, a friend of Mr Tonkins’ who also attended the hunting trip, said their deceased mate “would be looking down from up there [heaven] and laughing” at the media furore.
“It was funny because [Mr Tonkins] is the most placid bloke. We laughed at him for chucking such a s**t punch,” Mr Amor told news.com.au.
Hunting wild horses is not illegal in Australia. Proponents of hunting, or culling as they refer to it, point to the fact the Brumby is a non-native species that is invasive and destructive to the environment. Earlier this year, the Australian government released details of their plan to kill 90% of the Brumby population in the Snowy Mountain region. The wild horses in this region were made famous by the movie The Man From Snowy River. These horses have been there for 150 years, and opponents to this plan do not find a reason to change this. Please sign my petition to put an end to this brutal, unnecessary cruelty to horses.
Mr Gordon says there’s a role for animal welfare activists, but says he feels the argument often gets out of balance.
“Animal welfare activists claim the moral high ground when often they don’t have that right.
“I certainly don’t put everyone in the same category. These radical elements are fringe but they do exist.
“But some of the activity that goes on in protest against the trade is illegal, dangerous and criminal.”
Mr Gordon says the attacks on his and other companies, like Wellard Rural Exports, have been subject to are obviously acts of sabotage.
“We’ve previously had a tractor quite severely damaged, and at the same time, ironically, parts were taken from our firefighting unit and thrown into the bush.
“But I don’t think there is any animal welfare group that would condone this sort of activity.
“At least, not publically.”
Wellard Rural Exports also targetted by criminal activists
At Easter time earlier this year, Wellard Rural Exports was also targetted by vandals who broke into its nearby feedlot at Baldivis.
The activists cut hydraulic and brake lines on trucks, forklifts, tractors and trailers and cut 50 electrical cords.
General manager Fred Troncone says if the staff hadn’t noticed the damage immediately, the results could have been serious.
“I’ll be the first to say that animal rights activists have a right to express their opinion. They’ve got the right to demonstrate against the trade.
“That’s what Australia is about. We’re a free country with freedom of speech and people are allowed to protest.
“But I think we need to be careful that we draw the line when that activity turns criminal.
“They do not have a right to be criminals.
“The same people who were protesting against live exports on welfare grounds also turned off the water to the sheep troughs.”
Senator weighs in on attack
West Australian Senator Chris Back is currently pursuing an amendment to the criminal code, which would cover vandalism of this kind.
The private Senator’s bill would allow police to investigate and prosecute animal abuse more effectively and prosecute known offenders.
It would also allow police to prosecute a person or persons that threatens, intimidates, causes fear to any person associated with a legal operating enterprise, or if they vandalise, invade or trespass into properties such as farms and feedlots.
He says this most recent vandalism in Mundijong adds weight to his argument that changes need to be made.
“Nobody wants to stop the rightful, lawful activity of people who want to object to a trade,” he said.
“That happens openly, we will see it happen at the G20 and that is the right of people.
“But it is not the right of people to interfere in the lawful operations of others, to put businesses at risk and to put lives at risk.”