New home for 200 wombats on death row
Two hundred wombats have been saved from the firing squad after the Aboriginal Lands Trust reversed a planned cull, revealed by The Advertiser.
The animals are likely to be housed in a reserve on the Point Pearce farm, which they have overrun with up to 1000 burrows.
The Environment Department had secretly approved the cull earlier this month, but Greens MLC Tammy Franks thwarted the plan because the State Government-appointed trust members answer to a Parliamentary committee.
Ms Franks won a vote in the committee this week for the ALT to explain why it wanted to exterminate the entire colony of the Southern Hairy Nosed Wombats.
"Finally sense has prevailed,'' she said after a national backlash against the plan.
"There are also economic benefits for the community working with groups to ensure a safe location for the animals and I look forward to working with the ALT and advocates for the animals to make that happen.''
The decision to cull was also criticised by local Indigenous tourism operator Quenten Agius, who said people travelled long distances to see the colony.
After insisting the cull was needed to allow a leasehold farmer to continue working the Point Pearce property on Yorke Peninsula, Chief Executive of the Aboriginal Lands Trust John Chester today revealed an alternative solution would be found.
"Following a meeting between the Aboriginal Lands Trust (ALT) and the board of the Point Pearce Aboriginal Corporation, as well as consultation with the State Government, the ALT has resolved to work with all parties to seek an alternative solution to the proposed culling of wombats which are hindering farming activity on a portion of ALT land in the Yorke Peninsula,'' he said in a written statement.
"The animals also pose a potential health risk to the community due to mange infestation.
"The application to cull the wombat colony was submitted in good faith last year and with the support of the Point Pearce community, the ALT and other stakeholders."
But Mr Chester was also critical of interest groups he said had underestimated the colony's numbers, which the ALT believed amounted to some 3000 animals in the area.
"We are in no doubt that the local wombat population vastly exceeds that which is being quoted by interest groups. Estimates based on aerial studies of warrens suggest the population is in excess of 2000 wombats on the farm let alone all of Point Pearce or the Yorke Peninsula,'' he said.
"The proposed culling of this particular population would present no threat to the sustainability of the wombat population on the Yorke Peninsula, we are nevertheless alive to the sensitivities involved in the culling of native Australian wildlife and open to alternate solutions."
Ms Chester said a likely solution would be a reserve for the animals.
"Preliminary discussions have focused on identifying an area on the parcel of land that can be reserved for the wombat colony so that farming, which is critical to the sustainment of the local community, can continue while the culling of the animals is avoided.
"We thank the Department for Environment and Water for its support and look forward to working with it to achieve this."