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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    Helicopter drops to deliver fruit to Cassowaries

    Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Helicopter drops to deliver fruit to Cassowaries

    Cassowaries struggling to find a feed after Cyclone Yasi tore through their habitat will get a helping hand, with aerial food drops set to start today.

    Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said staff from the Department of Environment and Resource Management would be conducting the food drops to supplement the cassowaries’ natural diet, with fruit donated by far north Queensland retailers.

    Two on-the-ground feeding stations have also been set up in rainforest near Mission Beach, with more stations to be put in place over the weekend.

    “These feeding stations will provide important alternative food supplies for the rare cassowaries, after much of their normal food sources were destroyed by Cyclone Yasi,” Ms Jones said.

    “The two stations near Mission Beach have been put in place to immediately assist cassowaries in the hardest hit areas and will be stocked with fruit today.

    “More stations will be installed and stocked over the weekend, with some in locations used during the Cyclone Larry recovery.

    “DERM staff are also investigating new locations in areas south of Mission Beach, and will use the helicopters to drop fruit into more remote and inaccessible areas.

    “None of this would be possible without the generosity of Coles, Woolworths and Bi-Lo, who are donating fruit not suitable for sale but still safe for cassowaries.

    “Local community groups have also played a big role, with volunteers helping to cut up more than 300 kilos of fruit for the feeding stations and aerial drops.

    “This will make a real difference for one of our unique animals in need.”

    Ms Jones said it’s important people don’t feed cassowaries – for their own safety and so the birds don’t become dependent on human feeding.

    “Cassowaries that come to expect food from humans can become aggressive and very dangerous,” she said.

    “We’re taking precautions in setting up the feeding stations away from roads and residential areas – for the protection of the cassowaries and the community.

    “The stations will also be moved and alternated to encourage natural foraging and movement.

    “Importantly, this program will be supplementary only, and is not intended to replace the birds’ natural habits as their regular food supplies regenerate.”

    Ms Jones said DERM had set up a Cassowary Response Team to work with the community to develop a coordinated response and fully assess the damage to important cassowary habitat.

    “Aerial surveys by DERM of cassowary habitat south of Mission Beach this week have shown significant damage from Bramston Beach to Kurramine,” Ms Jones said.

    “Pockets of forest between agricultural areas have been badly damaged, leaving the cassowaries little to no refuge as they move around looking for food.

    “The forests that are standing are so choked with debris that the birds will need to find easier paths as they forage.

    “That means they might use tracks and roads, so people out driving or hiking in coming months will need to be extra wary of cassowaries,” she said.

    Cassowary sightings can be reported to DERM on 1300 130 372.

    Media Contact: 3239 0818