Alpine cattle discovered trampling endangered frogs and wetlands
Saturday, 5 February 2011
Cattle recently allowed into Victoria's Alpine National Park as a 'scientific trial' are trampling threatened Alpine Tree Frogs and their wetland habitat, says leading alpine ecologist Dr Henrik Wahren.
The Alpine Tree Frog and alpine wetlands are listed as nationally threatened under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.
Dr Wahren of LaTrobe University's Research Centre for Applied Alpine Ecology found Alpine Tree Frogs living in trampled wetlands in the 'Treasure scientific grazing plot' south-east of Mt Hotham when visiting the site last week.
"The wetland habitat of the Alpine Tree Frog is heavily used by cattle, and given the level of damage already observed after just two weeks, it is likely to be severely degraded by the time the cattle are removed for the season in April," said Dr Wahren.
"The reintroduction of cattle to the Alpine National Park poses a serious threat to nationally listed species and the nationally listed Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Fens ecological community," he said.
The Victorian National Parks Association has stepped up its calls for Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to take action over the issue.
"Minister Burke seems to be stalling while the damage is being done. But there is clear evidence of cattle having a significant impact on nationally threatened species, so the Federal Government must take action now to protect these species," said VNPA spokesperson Phil Ingamells.
Announcing the reintroduction of cattle into the park in mid January, Victorian Environment Minister Ryan Smith said research sites were "carefully selected to avoid or minimise significant impacts" but no detailed investigation or field assessments were conducted before the cattle were introduced.
"As well as the clear damage to the Alpine Tree Frog and alpine peat beds and wetlands, other species are also at risk including the Spotted Tree Frog, and the Leafy Greenhood Orchid," said Mr Ingamells.
"There could also be a range of other threatened species in the area, but the essential survey work that should be routine in such a situation has not been done."
"The Baillieu Government was in such a rush to return cows to the Alpine National Park that they did not do their home work. The cattle must be removed before any further damage is done," he said.
- Philip Ingamells, VNPA Park Protection Project Officer - 0427 705 133.
- Matt Ruchel, VNPA Executive Director - 0418 357 813.