Investigation into wombat shooting closed, but wombat gates wide open as debate continues

Wombat gate on farmland

Wombat gate on farmland

Frustrated farmers have met with Member for Bega Andrew Constance to express their woes relating to wombat management, as the debate intensifies following the alleged illegal wombat shootings on the Heffernan farm at the back of Candelo last month.

Free passage: wombat gate at Potoroo Palace, used successfully for 20 years. Picture: Lea Pinker

Free passage: wombat gate at Potoroo Palace, used successfully for 20 years. Picture: Lea Pinker

Mr Constance said farmers “from right across the Bega Valley” visited his office last Monday September 12, to raise concerns about repair costs and alleged loss of production relating to wombats, telling Mr Constance they have “no idea what the solution may be”.

“What we’re seeing is farmers losing tens of thousands of dollars in farm infrastructure and people rolling tractors and things, and they’ve presented me with photos where their farmland looks like Swiss cheese; one farmer counted 100 burrows on his place,” Mr Constance said on Tuesday.

“They don’t want to harm animals but find a way forward in terms of management. So therein lies the challenge.”

Mr Constance said he raised the issue with the State Minister for the Environment Mark Speakman last week, and is now waiting for parliamentary advice.

Mr Constance would not comment on the alleged illegal shooting of a mother and baby wombat on the Heffernan farm last month.

“We don’t want a heated debate, but instead we need to find a way to manage a difficult situation in terms of cross production and also taking care of one of our native animals,” Mr Constance concluded.

Meanwhile director of Potoroo Palace Wildlife Education Centre Lea Pinker echoed last week’s statement by Brigitte Stevens of the Wombat Awareness Organisation, urging farmers to adopt simple, cheap measures to better co-exist with wombats.

Ms Pinker said wombat-gates are used effectively at Potoroo Palace and Cowsnest farmland near Candelo, helping reduce fence damage.

“This gate design has been developed over many years by various wildlife carers, and have been in practice for at least 20 years,” Ms Pinker said on Monday, adding the gates are feral animal proof.

Ms Pinker stressed again that culling of wombats only leads to social dysfunction and subsequent “breaches” along fence lines.

Meanwhile the Office of Environment and Heritage has advised the Magnet it has “closed its investigation” into the wombat shootings on the Heffernan farm.

“(The NPWS) found no evidence that the wombats were shot by the landowner,” a NPWS spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Related stories:

Shot wombats divide community

Digging deeper: wombat shootings investigated

Wombats losing the battle

Unearthing the truth

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