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    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    New community of night parrots in Central West Queensland

    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

    New community of night parrots in Central West Queensland

    Australian Wildlife Conservancy scientists believe they have uncovered a new occurrence of one of Australia’s most endangered birds in a remote national park in Central West Queensland.

    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, Dr Steven Miles said scientists from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy were confident they had discovered the presence of a new occurrence of night parrots within Diamantina National Park.

    “This is exciting news and very timely as Australia celebrates National Bird Week (17-21 October). What a great addition to the 2016 census of our native birds,” Dr Miles said.

    “For more than a century no living night parrot was seen until in 2013 its existence in western Queensland was confirmed by ecologist John Young.

    “Now a field survey led by AWC scientists has confirmed active birds and nests in Diamantina National Park in central west Queensland," he said.

    AWC have advised that their Senior Field Ecologist John Young, accompanied by Dr Rod Kavanagh confirmed the distinctive “ding ding” calls of at least two different Night Parrots shortly after dusk on 10 June of this year.

    Night parrot calls on Diamantina National park were later confirmed on 11 September by Professor Peter Valentine who accompanied John Young to a suspected nesting site.

    Three active nests with night parrot eggs discovered during the survey by AWC have been independently verified by the renowned ornithologist and author, Lloyd Nielsen.

    “The scientists report that they have observed birds in the vicinity of those nests and in one other location, and that they have identified night parrots at another three locations thanks to their distinctive call," Dr Miles said.

    Dr Miles said AWC scientists had developed a habitat model which indicated some areas of Diamantina National Park were ideal habitat for night parrots and additional occurrences may yet be discovered.

    “AWC’s ground-breaking research and surveys complement the work being done by Bush Heritage Australia and the Night Parrot Recovery Team that was established when the first night parrots were confirmed in the area that has now become the Pullen Pullen Night Parrot Reserve, adjacent to Diamantina National Park,” Dr Miles said.

    “After more than a century in the shadows the elusive night parrot is once again in the spotlight,” he said, adding that the Queensland Government had moved rapidly to secure the newly discovered population from poachers, as it did in declaring an Interim Conservation Order over Bush Heritage’s Pullen Pullen Night Parrot Reserve.

    “A Restricted Access Area has been officially declared over part of Diamantina National Park from yesterday (Friday 21 October, 2016) which prohibits unauthorised access east of the main road that runs through the park.

    “This will have no impact on public use of the park as the area in question contains no parking or visitor facilities.

    “Anyone who enters a Restricted Access Area without authority or takes, uses or interferes with a natural resource risks a fine of $9,752 or up to $365,700 or two years’ imprisonment.

    “In addition to the declaration of a restricted access area the Queensland Government has mobilised additional resources to work with AWC to jointly expedite research, feral cat control and the removal of old cattle fences.

    A nature refuge agreement to secure the night parrot reserve at Pullen Pullen Reserve was formally signed on October 11 by the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Dr Miles, and Bush Heritage Australia CEO.

    The Palaszczuk Government has also committed $440,000 to Bush Heritage Australia, including a grant for conservation works to secure and protect the bird’s habitat.

    “I look forward to a close working relationship between AWC, Bush Heritage, other landholders and government in protecting the night parrot,” Dr Miles said.

    “We recognise the intense interest this announcement will receive internationally and we are doing everything possible to protect the night parrot.

    “That includes making sure we get the science right on any future developments, such as the proposed predator-free enclosure at Diamantina National Park.

    “AWC has deferred the proposed fence for at least two years while detailed surveys and research on night parrots and other endangered species including the bilby are carried out.

    “While postponing this important predator proof enclosure for endangered species may be perceived as putting other species at risk, in partnership with AWC, we are taking every action necessary to protect any populations of the night parrot which may be in the area.”

    ENDS

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