Muttonbird no-go zone

ONE of Coffs Harbour's most popular natural attractions is off-limits until further notice.

The Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve has been closed to the public to allow National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) officers continue the search for the fox believed to be responsible for last week's killing of 40 muttonbirds.

NPWS Coffs Coast area manager Glenn Storrie said at this stage the island would probably be closed until May 10, when all the birds should have left for South-East Asia.

"The closure is needed so that NPWS officers can conduct a fox-control program," Mr Storrie said.

"We have tried a number of methods such as trapping and shooting, which as yet haven't been successful. The next method is baiting.

"Parts of the walking track will be used to do this, so it is important that, for their own safety, we keep people of the island.

"It also provides extra protection for the birds."

A lone fox was spotted near the muttonbird burrows last week during a night-time patrol by NPWS rangers. The sighting was consistent with veterinary advice indicating a dog may have been responsible for the attacks.

Mr Storrie said while the focus was on catching the fox spotted, NPWS was still remaining vigilant.

"We are continuing to cover all bases. By closing the island to everyone, if people were involved, we are also keeping them off."

For further information contact the Coffs Coast NPWS office on 6652 0900.

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