Wildlife wardens wanted to protect feathered friends

Clarence Valley residents are being asked to volunteer during the shorebird breeding season to help protect local threatened species including Pied Oystercatchers.

Pied oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris), a shorebird, Conjola National Park

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Area Manager Andrew Lugg said the wildlife wardens will support rangers working across the beaches in Yuraygir National Park.

"With the holidays upon us and the significant increase in visitors, disturbance is the greatest threat to the birds," Mr Lugg said.

"The wardens will help us to protect the birds' nests by educating visitors to the Park about the species and reminding them to avoid nesting areas.

"We have installed temporary fencing and signs to highlight the importance of the site, and this season we have also raised the nests up on sandbags to prevent them being disturbed by the tides, vehicles, dogs and people.

"In addition, we have maintained our fox baiting program to improve their nesting success," Mr Lugg said.

Like many threatened species nesting shorebirds are very vulnerable during the first few months of their lives.

"If the parent birds should leave the eggs and chicks for any length of time predation becomes a major issue – seagulls, crows and unrestrained dogs can devastate a colony in a very short time," Mr Lugg said.

"This season unfortunately we've already had one Pied Oystercatcher nest with two eggs destroyed by people with dogs entering a fenced area in Red Rock estuary.

"A lot of effort goes into to protecting these nesting birds and it's really disappointing to see such senseless behaviour.

"It would be great to have local volunteers who value our wildlife helping us to keep an eye out for these very special birds," Mr Lugg said.

Anyone living in a local coastal community who is interested in becoming a warden can contact the NPWS Grafton Office on 6641 1500.