Driver's crushing tern of events

AN investigation is underway into the deliberate crushing of three Crested Terns by a 4WD driver close to the Little Terns breeding site at Willis Creek on Hearnes Lake Beach.

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Rangers were alerted to the incident by a member of the public who witnessed a vehicle driving dangerously on the beach. At the site, they found three dead Crested Terns crushed within two separate sets of tyre tracks.

NPWS Rangers and staff from the Solitary Islands Marine Park are currently carrying out investigations into the incident.

“This is a shameful act that demonstrates a total lack of thought and sense, particularly at this time of year when many birds and marine mammals are coming to our shores to breed,” said Coffs Harbour mayor Cr Keith Rhoades, Chair of Council's Land Use, Health and Development Committee.

“I would urge anyone witnessing this kind of hooligan behaviour to contact NPWS Rangers or Council straight away,” he said.

Living in close association with the Crested Terns are Little Terns (Sterna albifrons subsp sinensis) which are listed as an Endangered Species under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

In 2007, the Willis Creek site was identified as a potential breeding area and fencing was installed for the breeding season.

The protection of the site resulted in the successful hatching of 11 chicks. Fencing had once again been put in place at Willis Creek, prior to this incident.

As its name suggests, the Little Tern is the smallest of Australia's terns with a wingspan of only 45-55 centimetres and a total weight of 50 grams.



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