26 September 2023

Flying-Fox deaths prompt poison reminder

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Members of the community across the State are being reminded to dispose properly of chemicals and pesticides after 70 grey-headed flying-foxes were found dead in the Shoalhaven.

Director, South East Branch, Biodiversity and Conservation Division at DPE, Mike Saxon said it was a tragedy a banned organochlorine pesticide, Dieldrin, was confirmed in one flying-fox and there were signs that others had also ingested a poison.

“At this stage we have not been able to identify any person responsible and we do not know if this was a deliberate or accidental poisoning,” Mr Saxon said.

“We are continuing enquiries but regardless, this tragic incident highlights the horrible impact banned pesticides have on our native wildlife,” he said.

“Grey-headed flying-foxes play a vital role in our environment pollinating our forests and dispersing our rainforest seeds.”

Explaining the foxes also fed on fruit, including backyard fruit trees, Mr Saxon said he knew this could frustrate gardeners but reminded them that grey-headed flying-foxes were listed as a threatened species in New South Wales.

“They are protected under the Biodiversity Conservation Act and it is an offence to harm them,” Mr Saxon said.

He said DPE was partnering with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to inform the community about risks associated with the improper storage and use of pesticides.

Director of Regulatory Operations at EPA, Cate Woods said the use of Dieldrin had been banned in Australia since 1987, noting that it could accumulate in native animals and livestock, and contaminate soil for decades.

“This is a good reminder to check areas of your property where old pesticide or chemical stocks may be forgotten and dispose of them lawfully,” Ms Wood said.

“Any old stocks of organochlorine pesticides like Dieldrin should be stored securely and properly labelled until they can be safely disposed of at a Household Chemical CleanOut event.”

She said the free events, held across the State, accepted household quantities up to a maximum of 20 litres or 20 kilograms of a single chemical or item.

“We much prefer that people come forward and dispose of these chemicals or poisons correctly, rather than try to dispose of them another way that may end up harming our environment and wildlife,” Ms Wood said.

Information on Household Chemical CleanOut events can be accessed at this PS News link.

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