Seasonal national park closures to protect coastal raptors

Parts of Kangaroo Island’s National Parks, Wilderness Protection Areas and Conservation Parks will again be seasonally closed from 1 May, for conservation and public safety reasons.

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island District Manager Brett Dalzell said that reserves are closed at different times of the year for public safety reasons, which can be due to severe weather, feral animal control activities, prescribed burns or to protect threatened species’ breeding habitats.

“Kangaroo Island supports 18 breeding pairs of the South Australian endangered white-bellied sea eagle, which is a quarter of the state’s population, and just half of their breeding areas are situated within reserves,” Mr Dalzell said.

“Many large eagle populations around the world are in decline and a long-term study of white-bellied sea eagles on Kangaroo Island has shown that human activities reduce their breeding success.”   

Coastal raptors include the white-bellied sea eagles and the eastern osprey, and Kangaroo Island is an important home to both.

Mr Dalzell said that due to increased reserve visitation and coastal access, it is important to provide coastal raptors with some protection, to give them every opportunity to raise and fledge chicks.

“Partial reserve closures will be in place from 1 May until 31 December each year in parts of the Vivonne Bay Conservation Park and both Cape Torrens and Cape Gantheaume Wilderness Protection Areas.

“Permanent advisory signs have been installed in areas that locals, visitors or tour operators may access.

“It is important to stay on designated walking trails in our reserves and follow the directions of park staff and signs,” Mr Dalzell said.

Coastal raptor researcher Sharie Detmar said white-bellied sea eagles are particularly sensitive to disturbance during the breeding season and their natural response is to rise above the perceived threat, leaving the eggs or chicks exposed to the elements or predators. 

“Studies have found that nests with high levels of disturbance are much less productive, or have fewer chicks fledging, compared to nests in areas with less disturbance,” Miss Detmar said.

“If you know of a sea eagle territory please give them privacy during breeding season – it is critical that we take steps to protect the breeding habitat of these iconic coastal raptors.

“By working together, we can ensure Kangaroo Island remains a stronghold for white-bellied sea eagles for generations to come.”

 For the latest information about the reserve closures on Kangaroo Island, visit the National Parks SA website at http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Safety/park-closures or drop into the Kingscote Natural Resources Centre at 37 Dauncey Street. 

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