Turtles lose paradise
NORTH Burnett Regional Council will be forced to close the Paradise Dam Turtle Hatchery later this year, after the State Government did not renew its funding contract.
Mayor Joy Jensen said the State Government had funded the council to operate the hatchery, which has looked after white-throat snapping turtles, since it was built.
But Cr Jensen said the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) would cut the funding at the end of the financial year.
"They built the dam - they caused the issue with the turtles," Cr Jensen said.
"Now they are just relinquishing all responsibility there."
Cr Jensen said the loss of habit for the endangered turtles - also known as elseya albagula - was triggered by the creation of Paradise Dam.
"The environment is the key player here," she said.
"(The turtles) are absolutely unique - that's the primary concern."
The mayor said the hatchery would cost about $150,000 a year to run - a figure well beyond the means of the council.
"We believe this is very much a State Government responsibility," she said.
"I think it's far too expensive for the ratepayers to take on this responsibility."
DERM'S assistant director-general Christine Williams said the department had not been involved in the turtle hatchery since June 30 last year.
"The hatchery was established in 2005 as part of a five-year program to ensure that turtle populations in the Burnett River were reproducing effectively following construction of the dam," she said.
"Council was fully aware that this was a five-year project and that DERM intended to phase out its reliance on this facility for hatchling production."
Dr Williams said DERM advised the council last year that the hatchery facilities would no longer be used by DERM for the incubation of eggs.