Cockatoo cull averted?

A glimmer of hope is starting to appear in the case of the Potts Point cockatoo cull.  At my suggestion the City is negotiating with the owners of the building where the cull has been requested to see if they would be amiable to the trial of “shock tape”, an adhesive substance through which a non-lethal electric current is passed that discourages birds from landing.  While no conclusion has been reached at the time of writing, the signs are positive.

When my office met with the proponents of the cull and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS – the body ultimately responsible for approving the cull) a few months ago the idea of shock track was dismissed off-hand.  The other parties said that it couldn’t be installed on vertical surfaces and that they didn’t want to spend any more money trying to avoid a cull.  However following advice from specialist bird controllers about what could be down with shock track, and an in-principle agreement from the City to fund the trial, all parties became much more open to the idea.

I’m grateful to the City for supporting this trial, as well as to NPWS for holding off on granting the culling licence while they await the outcome.  The only potential sticking point is the building managers, who have not yet shown their hand on the matter and have made a number of unusual requests of the City before they agree to the trial.

I’m also very grateful for the community support that has been thrown behind this issue – two Potts Point residents opposed to the cull have done a great job of letting locals know what’s happening and have collected over 500 signatures on a petition opposing the cull.  They were hoping to present these to state Environment Minister Robyn Parker however she seems decidedly uninterested in the issue and has turned down meeting requests, so I’ll just be sending the petition in on the community’s behalf.

While nothing is finalised yet things are looking up for the possibility that a humane solution will be used.  Watch this space for more news!

Edit – the news seems to be getting worse, see this media release I put out on the 31st of August for an update.


2 responses to “Cockatoo cull averted?

  1. Shocktape is not “an adhesive substance” – please do basic some research. Glue is an adhesive substance.

    “Shocktape is transparent adhesive tape, 4.5 cm. wide, in which thin and flat aluminum wires are embedded”.

    A DC current (similar to that used in cattle fences) is applied which provides a shock to the bird when a circuit is made by the bird standing on both aluminium wires.

    See the manufacturers (Mahatz) website

    The local distributors agree that shock tape is not suitable for installation on heritage buildings because.

    – I has to be laid in continuous strips which are joined together but heritage buildings have small windows separated by a large expanse of brickwork and no cavity walls to feed the cables to join each window.
    – Putting the cables outside the building would not be possible because the shielding required (to prevent bird damage) would conflict with heritage requirements.
    – The system has to be left on all the time otherwise it can be damaged by birds
    – The strips must be laid on a smooth surface – heritage buildings tend to have rough brick which is where the birds alight to attack the window frames.

    Also the council failed to quantify:

    1. the precise details of its funding proposal;
    2. how it was proposed to install the shock tape, and also the electrical cables which would be required to operate it;
    3. whether it would indemnify the heritage building against any further damage suffered during the course of the trial
    4. whether it would indemnify the heritage building against liability for injury to passers by for injury suffered (a) during the course of the installation or (b) if the birds chew bits of the tape off and drop them on to the foot path.

    Shocktape was used successfully at the Wharf at Wooloomooloo because that building has long expanses of flat, smooth surfaces making it ideal for the installation.

    So please stop claiming that you have “prevented the cull” – all you have done is thrown up a red herring by failing to understand the problem, failing to do any research and failing to produce a solution.

    • Hi Paul

      You’re obviously closely involved with this specific issue, however I can assure you that I have researched shock tape extensively – wether or not you call it a substance is splitting hairs I feel. I also have it in writing from a senior bird control professional who inspected the building that shock tape could be installed there. I don’t think you can accurately generalise about heritage buildings the way you have.

      As for the negotiations for the trial, these were being conducted by the Council CEO. It is the CEO who has the authority to enter into an agreement like this and is therefore quite proper that she carries out the negotiations, rather than a Councillor such as myself. I therefore don’t know what stage the negotiations are at but the issues you raise will indeed be resolved at some point – assuming both parties are genuinely interested in negotiating. However it should be pointed out that indemnities are not the Council’s responsibility – these are held by the contractors who carry out the works,

      As for whether or not the cull has been stopped, I’m afraid my feelings on the issue aren’t as positive as when I wrote this article a few weeks ago. I’ve now updated the entry to include a link to a media release I put out on this issue last week.


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