Ibis invasion to cost thousands

The Australian white ibis is becoming a pest across Bundaberg.
The Australian white ibis is becoming a pest across Bundaberg. Max Fleet

A POTENTIAL explosion in ibis numbers will cost the Bundaberg Regional Council more than $44,000 to contain over the next year.

At its meeting last week the council decided to award the $44,386 contract to a company named Ecosure to carry out the Ibis Management Program.

Council health and environment director Greg Savage said the ibis numbers started becoming a real problem a few years ago.

“No one's really sure why their numbers started expanding,” he said.

“They took over an area of the Botanic Gardens and they started destroying the vegetation.”

Mr Savage said their numbers became so great they took over an island in the lake at the gardens.

“They cleared all the vegetation off the island and it just became a stinking mass of birds,” he said.

Mr Savage said ibises were real scavenging birds.

“Because of their bulk and foraging habits they dominate over other birds,” he said.

“They can take over an area and push everything else out.

“They can be quite aggressive when getting food.”

Mr Savage said he had seen ibises at Southport push food off tables so people would walk away and they could eat it.

He said the council had decided it was better to employ consultants because they had experience.

They would do the background work, such as bird counts and egg counts, that was necessary to get a licence to control numbers.

When the consultants started their work they told the council they had found other potential feeding areas for the birds in the region.

“By controlling their numbers in the early stage we can contain the problem,” Mr Savage said.

“They don't mind travelling long distances – there was one tagged on the Gold Coast a while back that was found scavenging at a dump in Cairns.”

Mr Savage said control measures included taking and destroying eggs in relation to the number of breeding pairs in an area.

The council also started cleaning the streets in the CBD at 4am to remove food, and carried out public education by speaking to people who fed the birds.

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