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Leading raptor expert is looking for local birds of prey

One of Australia’s leading raptor experts will be delivering a special presentation on the plight of birds of prey on the Northern Tablelands at Recognising Your Raptors Field Days coming up in Armidale on 20 March, Ben Lomond/Llangothlin on 21 March and Inverell on 22 March 2017.

Northern Tablelands Local Land Services is hosting a series of events as part of a new project to raise awareness of the birds of prey that call the Tablelands home and halt the decline in local populations of the Little Eagle, the Square-tailed Kite, and the White-bellied Sea-Eagle.

It may surprise people to know how rare these birds now are. Each of these birds is listed in NSW as a ‘threatened species’ (category Vulnerable) which means their numbers are in decline to the point of being at risk of extinction in the long term.

Ecologist and raptor specialist, Steve Debus, is searching the Northern Tablelands for raptor nests with the aim of monitoring their breeding success over the coming season.

“The Northern Tablelands may be one of the few places left in the State where habitat is still in relatively good condition,” said Steve.

“Lakes and large water bodies in inland areas provide very important habitat for raptors such as the Sea Eagle, which is mostly considered a coastal bird.”

Steve Debus reports the breeding success and life expectancy of inland birds of prey have dropped dramatically, particularly in pairs of Little Eagles which he has been personally studying since 1980.

Northern Tablelands Local Land Services Project Manager, Carina Johnson, says it’s a privilege to have Steve involved in the Birds of Prey Project and take the time to speak with local communities about where these birds are in our landscape.

“As top predators, these birds are indicators of a healthy ecosystem. The changes we have seen in their populations suggest early warning signs regarding environmental health in our region,” said Carina.

“They play an important ecological role in controlling small mammals, including rabbits and rodents that compete with livestock for grazing resources, and they rapidly clean up carcasses, stopping the spread of disease that may threaten livestock.”

Landholders are invited to take part in the Recognising Your Raptors Field Days in Armidale on 20 March, Ben Lomond/Llangothlin on 21 March and Inverell on 22 March 2017. For more information and bookings contact Carina Johnson on 02 6770 2000.

The Birds of Prey project is a partnership between the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, the New England North West Biodiversity Alliance, and Northern Tablelands Local Land Services.

Media contact: Annabelle Monie 0429 626 326