Wildlife attacks increasing in WA's south with turtles strung up and pelican stabbed

Discussion in 'Reptile News' started by Flaviemys purvisi, May 7, 2018.

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  1. Flaviemys purvisi

    Flaviemys purvisi Very Well-Known Member

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    ABC Great Southern
    By Benjamin Gubana and Meggie Morris
    9405108-3x2-700x467.jpg
    Photo: Supplied. A dead turtle hangs from a riverside road sign near Collie, in WA's south-west.

    A pelican has been stabbed, dead turtles have been hung up and hooked, and a seagull is walking around with a wooden skewer in its neck in a series of concerning wildlife injuries across Western Australia's south.

    While two of the incidents appear to be the result of human littering, the other more serious injuries have been described by wildlife carers as deliberate and malicious.

    On the south coast a pelican in Denmark was stabbed with a 30cm-long filleting knife last month, while two turtles near Collie have this week been pictured bloodied and hanging from a road sign next to the Collie River.

    Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) regional wildlife officer Pia Courtis said the Collie River incident was still being investigated.

    South West wildlife carer Jessica Berry received a report about the incident and said while she had seen people deliberately kill and display snakes like trophies, she had never seen turtles intentionally killed.

    "I have seen pythons have their heads chopped off and displayed in a 'good snake's a dead snake' type scenario," she said.

    "But I've never seen people outright hurt turtles.

    "Turtles of that size are really old, so to live that long and make it that distance in life only to have that happen to them — it was just rude, it was so bad."


    Stabbed pelican rescued and released
    While the two turtles in Collie were found dead, the pelican was finally trapped by rangers on Monday, with the knife successfully removed.

    DBCA wildlife officer Ian Wheeler said he could only assume the pelican was stabbed on purpose.

    "The fact that the knife came in from the top, it would be very difficult for a bird to stab itself," he said.

    "So one can only assume that it was actually stabbed when it came too close to a fisherman or someone at the beach."
    9404790-3x2-700x467.jpg
    Photo: Carol Biddulph. A pelican that was stabbed with a filleting knife has been released bacvk into the wild.

    Mr Wheeler said rescuers had been overjoyed when they trapped the bird.

    "A lot of jubilation, because the bird's given us the run around," he said.

    "We spent quite a number of days, and weeks in fact, trying to locate the bird, catch the bird, work out how to catch the bird.

    "He was just so elusive."


    A seagull in the same area, which is living with a wooden skewer through its neck, has evaded rescuers for the past six weeks.

    Video: Pelican stabbed with a large knife in Western Australia.

    Hooks may have drifted
    A southwestern long-necked turtle was found in Margaret River on Sunday with three fishing hooks stuck in its body and face, prompting authorities to urge fishers to clean up after themselves.

    Jessica Diessner found the turtle while taking her dogs for a walk in a local park, and uploaded a photo of the mangled turtle to social media.

    "[The photo] was pretty horrible. I did feel really bad putting it on there but people need to see it," she said.

    "To have big hooks floating down the river is pretty insane. So it was just to make people realise that discarding any sort of rubbish is dangerous for our wildlife."
    9404728-3x2-340x227.jpg
    Photo: Jessica Diessner. A South western Snake-necked turtle was found dead in Margaret River's Rotary Park, with three fishing hooks in its body.

    Ms Courtis said fishing hooks as large as the ones found in the turtle were not used for river fishing, and would have most likely drifted to the area from somewhere else.

    'Report first, then post to social media'
    While the department appreciated social media was creating awareness around wildlife injuries, Ms Courtis said it was also hampering their investigation.

    "We don't have the time to be trawling Facebook to find out what's going on," she said.
    9406084-3x2-340x227.jpg
    Photo: Ashley Lapthorne. A seagull appears unfazed by a large wooden skewer protruding from its neck.

    "The information needs to be given to us first-hand so we can put our efforts into investigating what's happened and dealing with any of those incidents quickly."

    Ms Courtis said because people were immediately taking to social media, it could seem incidents were increasing, but that might not be the case.

    "There are a lot of people posting pictures," she said.

    "So whether or not there's an increase in incidents, it's probably more an increase in awareness."
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
  2. vampstorso

    vampstorso Very Well-Known Member

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    People are truly awful


    My husband had to intervene with a man luring the city pigeons onto his hand by pretending to have food, before he started grabbing them by the beak to make them thrash around and laugh...

    Thankfully hubby isn't afraid to tell people where to go, he quickly decided torturing birds wasn't funny!

    (Yes I know they're not native, but hurting animals for fun is wrong regardless is my point)
     
  3. Flaviemys purvisi

    Flaviemys purvisi Very Well-Known Member

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    Oh that is sadistic.

    Your husband sounds like a top bloke. He shoulda grabbed that twit by the nose and let him thrash around for a bit while laughing.
     
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  4. cris

    cris Almost Legendary

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    It is not uncommon for some fishermen to kill turtles intentionally, but it is often just accidental and not possible to completely avoid. Due to restrictions on spear fishing and using nets in many areas, it is hard to fish without getting the occasional turtle as bycatch.

    Some people would have a problem if you broke their necks and took them home to feed your pets... Not that I have ever done that (with others watching).
     
  5. vampstorso

    vampstorso Very Well-Known Member

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    Sounds an awful lot like you're trying to be intentionally inflammatory.
     
  6. Bluetongue1

    Bluetongue1 APS Veteran APS Veteran

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    Sorry, but I am not going to be baited by your comments (pun intended) and so am not biting with respect to the second half of your post. With regards the first half, however, would you please explain how it is often just accidental and not possible to completely avoid with respect to killing turtles.
     
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  7. Flaviemys purvisi

    Flaviemys purvisi Very Well-Known Member

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    I completely understand that turtles can be an unintentional, and sometimes frustrating bycatch for hardcore fisho's but there's ways to go about these encounters that don't include stabbing them to death, cutting off their limbs and or heads or stringing them up on road signs as some barbaric display to passing motorists. As mentioned in the article, these turtles are very old animals. Most likely in those waterways before the fisho's parents even met.

    The use of barbless fish hooks and not using stainless steel fish hooks when enjoying recreational fishing in a waterway that's known to support freshwater turtles, gives turtles a much better chance at surviving a catch and release from a fisherman.

    An attitude change is also necessary, our turtles aren't like the introduced European carp where it's considered acceptable, (when encountered as bycatch by fisho's targeting native sportfish species), to remove them from the water and leave them to die.

    Turtles are an essential and integral part of our ecosystems with a vital role to play. Any "accidentally captured" turtle should be treated with the respect it deserves, handled with care and released promptly with minimal damage.

    I've caught several wild turtles whilst fishing, all were short-necks and given the way they feed, they were all "foul-hooked" as fisho's call it... the turtles were hooked in the front feet (occurs when they grasp the bait in their mouth then use their forelimbs to rake at it and tear it up). They were all released with a small, barely noticeable wound to the front foot which would heal up in no time.

    Turtles hooked in the jaw (with barbless hooks) are easy to release with minimal damage.
     
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  8. cris

    cris Almost Legendary

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    If you fish with hooks it is not possible to completely avoid the risk of killing turtles. I very rarely fish with hooks because of the high risk of killing turtles. Most of the turtles I have caught in the past swallowed the hooks and I assume most likely died. One of the few that got hooked in a fairly harmless way was a M.belli and that is when I cut back on using hooks for fishing.

    As I pointed out it is often illegal to use other fishing methods to completely avoid harming turtles. Where it is legal I use a cast net to avoid harming turtles. Unfortunately that only is allowed in salt water and tidal areas here in Qld.

    There is a big difference between being intentionally cruel to an animal for no reason and accidentally harming them while engaging in some sort of practical activity.
     
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  9. Flaviemys purvisi

    Flaviemys purvisi Very Well-Known Member

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    Swallowed hooks will and do quickly rust away (if they're not stainless) leaving the turtle to carry on with life as normal. Using hooks that are barbless and not made from stainless steel makes it (not killing turtles) totally possible.
     
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  10. cris

    cris Almost Legendary

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    I have never seen a stainless hook and thought they were illegal. As for being able to survive swallowing a hook, the odds are unlikely to be good. I couldn't find any data relating to Australian freshwater turtles, but there is a high mortality rate in sea turtles. Here is a quote referring to one study

    From Steen, D. A. and Robinson, O. J. (2017), Estimating freshwater turtle mortality rates and population declines following hook ingestion. Conservation Biology, 31: 1333-1339. doi:10.1111/cobi.12926
     
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  11. Flaviemys purvisi

    Flaviemys purvisi Very Well-Known Member

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    There was a petition started a few years ago by a turtle welfare mob to ban the use of stainless steel fish hooks in fresh water, we were all for it. From memory though it didn't gain enough steam to get any action.

    From what I've seen over the years, multiple x-rays of wild turtles, the evidence suggests that quite a few freshwater turtles survive and live on with ingested stainless fish hooks. They just become like a permanent internal piercing. They show up clear as a bell on an x-ray. I've even seen a large adult female Krefft's with a 4 inch nail either hammered completely or fired with a nail gun into her carapace. It narrowly missed the spine and all vital organs. The turtle was living as nothing was out of the ordinary. No doubt some would die as a result if vital internals were extremely punctured or lacerated.

    You've gotta remember most hooks I'm talking about here aren't massive umbrella handles... they're baited freshwater fish hooks, from anglers targeting bass or mullet... relatively small, sizes 2 through to 6 or 8.
     
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  12. Ropey

    Ropey Not so new Member

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    My boys and I squash the barbs with a pair of pliers and that does the job....... effective and quick to do.
     
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  13. Flaviemys purvisi

    Flaviemys purvisi Very Well-Known Member

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    Good work man, I've used pliers to crimp the barbs too, and never use those suicide hooks.
    --- Automatic Post Merged, May 8, 2018, Original Post Date: May 8, 2018 ---
    If you're interested @cris & @Bluetongue1 - I did some digging and came across this.
    https://www.livescience.com/58422-swallowed-fishhooks-threaten-turtles.html

    Reel Threat: How Recreational Fishing Endangers Freshwater Turtles

    By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | March 27, 2017

    Swallowed fishhooks are a deadly threat to freshwater turtles, and until now, this danger was largely unexplored. A new study, however, finds that in some species, the likelihood of a turtle dying from a swallowed fishhook is as high as 11 percent, and that the frequency of turtle deaths from fishhooks would be enough to nudge vulnerable turtle populations into decline.

    Threats to sea turtles from commercial fishing — such as swallowing hooks — are well-documented, but far less is known about how recreational fishing and the threat of swallowed fishhooks impacts freshwater turtles.

    Recently, researchers evaluated data from multiple studies to calculate the probability of freshwater turtles ingesting fishhooks, how often that would prove to be fatal, and how deaths from swallowed hooks could affect turtle population numbers. [Fishhooks Threaten Freshwater Turtles | Video]

    Prior research suggested that hook ingestion in freshwater turtles is more widespread than scientists had suspected. In 2014, scientists gathered X-rays of more than 600 turtles representing four species, and found fishhooks in 33 percent of the animals. Another survey detected evidence of hooks in 36 percent of alligator snapping turtles in one Florida river, the authors reported in the new study.
    fish hook turtle xray.png

    Ingested fishhooks pose an underestimated threat to freshwater turtles, according to a new study.
    Credit: Steen DA, Hopkins BC, Van Dyke JU, Hopkins WA (2014) Prevalence of Ingested Fish Hooks in Freshwater Turtles from Five Rivers in the Southeastern United States


    "If you ask anyone who's gone fishing with live bait, there's a chance they've hooked a turtle," study co-author David Steen, an assistant research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn University Museum, told Live Science.

    "But there hasn't been an opportunity to look at this on a grand scale and see what's been going on," Steen said.

    In sea turtles, interactions with commercial fishing gear, including hooks, is known to be frequently deadly, with mortality rates of up to 82 percent, the authors wrote in the new study. But relatively little has been done to better understand how freshwater turtles are affected when they swallow fishhooks.

    "So we took the data from sea turtles and applied it to freshwater turtle populations," Steen said.


    Calculating the risk

    Steen and study co-author Orin J. Robinson Jr., a postdoctoral researcher with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University, modelled estimates for freshwater turtle mortality based on sea turtle mortality rates. Then, they combined those estimates with long-term data on turtle life histories in known populations, to see if they would be significantly affected by the deaths.

    Turtles in the wild produce a lot of young, but many of their babies die before reaching adulthood, so high survival rates among adults — which can live for many decades — help to keep populations stable, Steen said.

    However, if the mortality rates among adults go up, it can lead to a population decline. And the computer models showed that deaths from fishhooks would be significant enough to cause turtle populations to drop, the researchers said.

    xray2.png
    X-ray of a pond slider (Trachemys scripta), a semi-aquatic turtle, captured in Tennessee and containing a fish hook.
    Credit: Steen DA, Hopkins BC, Van Dyke JU, Hopkins WA (2014) Prevalence of Ingested Fish Hooks in Freshwater Turtles from Five Rivers in the Southeastern United States


    Freshwater turtles are known to face threats from human activity, such as habitat loss and overharvesting for food and pet trades, and the new findings suggest that fishhook ingestion should be added to that list, Steen told Live Science.

    "Sea turtles have been a subject of study for many years, and people have come up with strategies to protect them from bycatch," Steen said. "Policymakers and land managers might consider whether they should be regulating or monitoring the type of fishing that's going on in areas with vulnerable freshwater turtles."

    The findings were published online March 15 in the journal Conservation Biology.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
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