DUCK FEEDING AWARENESS PROJECT 2016 – TOOWOOMBA BRANCH OF WILDLIFE QLD
The Toowoomba Branch of Wildlife Qld, approached the Environment Department of the Toowoomba Regional Council in January 2016 with a joint project concept for the Toowoomba Waterbird Habitat, to install signage informing visitors of the damage that feeding bread to wildlife can cause.
BACKGROUND ABOUT THE PROJECT:
It had been observed that in various Toowoomba region parks with lakes, in particular, the Toowoomba Waterbird Habitat, that well-meaning visitors had been vastly over-feeding birdlife with large amounts of bread. During the end of December 2015 on one visit, Judi (President of Wildlife Qld Toowoomba Branch) and her son witnessed some visitors carrying up to three full loaves of bread and throwing it all into the water at the popular wildlife park.
It has been well researched that feeding ducks bread has catastrophic results, and Toowoomba wildlife carers had reported an increase over spring/summer of waterbirds coming into care with botulism and weak legs, caused by poor diets of no natural nutrients.
THE PROJECT BEGINS:
Staff at Toowoomba Regional Council were very supportive of the idea, and within a short time, achieved approval for the signage project at the waterbird habitat. Wildlife Qld Toowoomba Branch supplied all of the research, information, statistics and advice on the implications of feeding wildlife bread, and healthy choice options for those who still wanted to interact with feeding wildlife in moderation. Further observation of bird feeding habits at the park were also undertaken, and it was noted that in the garden closest to the waters edge on the Alderley St entrance, and the timber boardwalk, were the most popular locations for people to feed birds, and it was decided that these would be the locations for the signs, rather than on the entrance gates. The first signage concept for the Waterbird Habitat is below.
The above sign, while very informative was too large to install at the park waterside locations, and TRC felt that it should be condensed to ensure that visitors read all of the wording. A space in the covered information board installed at the park for further information about bird feeding was offered to Wildlife Qld.
OTHER PARK AWARENESS:
During the time that the signage was being condensed, it was brought to the attention of Wildlife Qld from Highfields residents, that the small lake at Peacehaven Botanical Park in Highfields, also had the same issues as the Waterbird Habitat & Lake Annand, with mass over-feeding of wildlife, and excess bread attracting rodents to the waters edge. Wildlife Qld emailed the environment department at Council and explained the situation and asked about the possibility of the same signage being utilized at Peacehaven and Lake Annand in the near future. No response was given to this request, but Council staff soon installed temporary signage on the boardwalk to ask visitors to refrain from feeding wildlife.
Wildlife Qld contacted the Friends of Peacehaven Park about the project idea, and they were very receptive to it, knowing very well about the large problem of over-feeding of the ducks & turtles in the area. The item was discussed at a group meeting of the Friends of Peacehaven and they were all in agreement that they would like to work with Wildlife Qld on gaining professional signage for the lake area under Toowoomba Regional Council. The Toowoomba Branch President of Wildlife Qld, Judi Gray, was invited to be the next guest speaker at the Friends of Peacehaven Group Meeting in early July.
FINAL SIGNAGE PROOFS
Mid-June 2016, Wildlife Qld Toowoomba Branch was updated on the project by Toowoomba Regional Council, and were informed that the condensed signage project would be going ahead in the Waterbird Habitat, Lake Annand & Peacehaven Park Lake at Highfields. This was very pleasing news and Wildlife Qld Branch members were thrilled to hear that council had gone ahead with the project and would be utilizing it in other parks with lakes in the region to educate visitors on the importance of caring for then native fauna.
It was with some disappointment, however, that the Principal for Parks Strategy in Toowoomba Region Council, decided that it would be best to remove the Wildlife Qld Toowoomba Branch Logo from the final signage. Requests to have this reversed were unfortunately denied.
The final signage proof is below and is due to be installed in the three parks in the very near future.
21st June 2016 – The Friends of Peacehaven Botanical Park, submitted an article to the High Country Herald Newspaper in Highfields regarding awareness about the bird feeding problem at Peacehaven Park, and the signage project with Wildlife Qld & Toowoomba Regional Council.