Bird cull is Geraldton church’s corollary

Peter SweeneyGeraldton Guardian
A corella invasion at the St Francis Xavier Cathedral is something to get cross about, as the facial expression of Father Robert Cross shows.
Camera IconA corella invasion at the St Francis Xavier Cathedral is something to get cross about, as the facial expression of Father Robert Cross shows. Credit: Peter Sweeney, The Geraldton Guardian

Invading corellas have turned St Francis Xavier Catholic cathedral into a deathtrap, according to a senior church leader.

“I am not being alarmist, but there could be the death of a human if these birds are not eradicated,” Father Robert Cross, chancellor and director of heritage at the Diocese of Geraldton, said.

Live copper wires have been exposed at the cathedral due to the early-morning and evening invaders.

The corellas have chewed through electrical junction boxes — laying them neatly on the side — and electrical conduits, causing short circuits.

They have also ripped the grouting around safety harness anchoring fixtures, exposing the cathedral to water damage.

Wire-eaters. Some of the damage caused by corellas at the cathedral.
Camera IconWire-eaters. Some of the damage caused by corellas at the cathedral. Credit: Catholic Diocoese of Geraldton

“The corellas have exposed live wires and workers or anybody up top is at serious risk of being electrocuted,” Father Cross said.

“They pose a serious public health and welfare risk.”

His comments follow public calls for authorities to take urgent action at the Geraldton Hotel, where corellas have ripped off roof paint, thereby releasing asbestos fibres.

Asbestos Society president Robert Vojakovic said the fibres could cause serious cancers over the next few decades.

“We probably had the same problem here (fibres) pre the recent restoration work done on the cathedral,” Father Cross said.

Father Cross wants the City of Greater Geraldton to “lift” the management strategy used by the City of Bunbury.

Corellas unscrew electrical junction boxes and lay them to the side before attacking wires.
Camera IconCorellas unscrew electrical junction boxes and lay them to the side before attacking wires. Credit: Catholic Diocoese of Geraldton

Bunbury is in the third year of a five-year plan to cull and disperse corellas, educate the community, and develop advocacy and partnerships.

Father Cross has called on the City to call an urgent meeting between the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, local politicians and private landowners affected by the corella invasion to develop a strategic plan similar to the one used in Bunbury.

“We are in the process of getting quotes to repair the damage, but because of the daily destructive activities of the corellas, the problem could be fixed today and re-occur tomorrow,” he said.

“We are talking with our insurance company to see if the damage is covered under our policy.

“It’s time to get rid of the birds once and for all and culling a few hundred will not solve this massive problem.

“Nobody likes to hurt animals, but it’s got to a point where it’s them or us.”

In recent years, the Federal and State Governments, the Catholic diocese and the Geraldton and Mid West community have invested millions of dollars in the conservation and enhancement of the cathedral.

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