The killing of native wildlife at a Victorian golf course has been slammed as “insane” and “archaic”, but the club claims they had no other option.
While photos on Bendigo Golf Club's website celebrate the abundance of kangaroos on its greens, corellas appear to be less welcome.
Residents living close to the course were warned in a letter that access to the grounds would be prohibited between 6pm and 9pm this week due to shooting of the birds.
The club said they were actioning a plan to eradicate flock which had settled on the course.
“We are currently experiencing significant damage to our golf course caused by corellas,” they wrote.
“To remedy this problem we are undertaking an eradication program.”
The club said up to a thousand birds had migrated to their greens, but they dispersed after a “handful” were shot on Monday night.
As species mate for life and can live up to 50 years in the wild, Australian Native Parrot Protection Association director Elizabeth Attard said the club’s conduct toward the highly intelligent species was “deplorable”.
She said as the world faces an extinction crisis, a 'business as usual' attitude towards wildlife killing cannot continue.
“During the Black Summer bushfires, billions of animals died, so we can no longer carry on as we have in the past,” she said.
“I would use the word archaic as a good description of (the shooting), which has no place in our 21st century.”
Golf club says scaring alone doesn't work as birds 'understand what's going on'
The club said shooters had been called to “remedy” the “significant damage” being inflicted to the course over a number of years by the native birds.
Golf operations manager Liam Carney told Yahoo News that management tried “every alternative known” but they had “no success at all”.
Mr Carney said the wording of his letter to the community was probably "a bit short and a little direct" and the action was “not a cull or a slaughter” as some locals had suggested.
Responding to criticism that the shoot should not have occurred during nesting season, he said there was no point in going ahead with the plan at a later date as the damage to the greens would have been done.
“The shooting was undertaken as a last resort as a scare tactic more than anything which proved effective as it moved them away,” he told Yahoo News.
Mr Carney said they tried shooting into the air first, but it took the actual killing of birds for them to understand they had to disperse.
“Once other animals are taken they begin to fly at a level where the shotgun pellets won’t hit them,” he said.
“They understand what’s going on.”
Club urged to commit to never shoot corellas again
Groups of bird lovers and animal advocates had been planning on travelling to the club to protest, but management said the shooting has likely concluded.
Animal Justice Party spokesperson Georgie Purcell called the shooting “appalling and disappointing” and has urged the club to commit to "never doing it again".
“Our native wildlife should be protected without exemption, they deserve to be here just as much as we do, and we can co-exist,” she said in a statement.
“The idea that we have only one way to manage species is simply untrue.
“We owe it to native animals to develop kinder alternatives.”
Wildlife carers are concerned that the killing occurred at a time when corellas are raising their young, and the club has confirmed with Yahoo News that no checks have been conducted for abandoned nests.
Exhausted after volunteering through a busy spring, Michelle Mead from Bendigo Wildlife Rescue Information Network said she was left “really upset” by the shooting.
“It's just a worry that we can't find better ways to live with wildlife,” she told Yahoo News.
“It just seems the easiest way is just to shoot them when they inconvenience us.
“If we don't wake up and start finding creative ways to share our spaces, then that luxury of seeing these animals is just not going to be there.”
The author, Michael Dahlstrom, has previously volunteered as a carer of predatory birds.
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