27 September 2023

Cassowary feeders urged to be Cass-O-Wary

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The Department of Environment and Science (DES) has urged members of the public to stop deliberately feeding the endangered cassowary.

The Department says people should be ‘Cass-O-Wary’ of the birds.

Director of Northern Wildlife Operations at DES, Lindsay Delzoppo said wildlife officers had heard reports that people around Kuranda had been deliberately feeding non-native fruit to cassowaries.

“Some people genuinely believe they are helping cassowaries and contributing to cassowary conservation by feeding them, but this is not the case,” Mr Delzoppo said.

“The birds need to be foraging for their own food in the rainforest and not in urban areas around Kuranda and Mission Beach waiting for a feed of chopped fruit.”

He said that in the past two years, 45 cassowaries, including 24 chicks and juvenile animals, had been killed or injured by vehicle strikes near Kuranda and Mission Beach.

“Wildlife officers believe many of these vehicle strikes were due to the cassowaries hanging around urban areas because people were deliberately feeding them,” Mr Delzoppo said.

“The maximum penalty for deliberately feeding a cassowary is $5,222, and we’re asking people to report deliberate cassowary feeding.”

Graham Lauridsen, from Tropical Vets, said six recent examinations of dead cassowaries provided evidence that humans were having an impact on local populations.

“A deceased bird from the Mission Beach area was full of passionfruit, chopped up mango and pear, and the deceased birds from the Kuranda area also had cut up fruit in their stomachs,” Dr Lauridsen said.

“Those six deceased cassowaries had clearly been encouraged to come into urban areas when they have no reason to be there, and then they’d been fed by locals.”

He said local Landcare groups, wildlife organisations and the Department were putting a lot of effort into cassowary conservation, which was being undone by locals who believed the cassowaries needed feeding.

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