Feathers fly at Geraldton as corella damage bill skyrockets

Jessica Millward, GERALDTON GUARDIANGeraldton Guardian
Feathers fly at Geraldton as corella damage bill skyrockets
Camera IconFeathers fly at Geraldton as corella damage bill skyrockets Credit: Geraldton Guardian

The City of Greater Geraldton has been left with a damage bill in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from corellas and claims the State Government is “completely uninterested” in fulfilling its obligation to control the problem.

Mayor Ian Carpenter said the City has been “forced to take action” due to the State Government’s inaction.

He said the City had been “battling the plague of corellas for years”, and Geraldton’s sporting grounds had taken a “big hit”.

Activewest Stadium and the Geraldton Hockey and Softball Association’s playing fields have been targeted by the destructive birds.

“That’s why we need to act fast,” Mr Carpenter said.

He said buildings and light fixtures in the CBD had been damaged, and the environment had worn the brunt of the corellas.

“Many trees in the City have been completely stripped, creating a safety issue for people in the vicinity and some vehicles damaged due to falling branches,” he said.

On Friday, the City launched its new corellas relocation program using firecrackers.

In the past the City of Greater Geraldton has used gas guns to scare the birds.

Mr Carpenter said the City hoped this new method would prove to be more sustainable.

The firecrackers have been built by Midwest Fireworks and have been used in Mingenew with proven results.

“The birds no longer group in Mingenew but stay on the outskirts of the town, which is our aim,” he said.

The firecracker method is more cost effective than the gas guns, with each firecracker costing less than $1.

“If this method is not sustainable then we will assess our options in the near future,” he said.

Geraldton Hockey Association vice-president Geoff Hood said the damage to the hockey fields was “extensive”.

“The corellas have attacked them mercilessly,” he said.

“The holes are as big as hockey balls.”

He said the City of Greater Geraldton had been “terrific” in its handling of the issue.

“They are being proactive and doing everything they can to relocate the birds considering their hands are tied as it is a protected species,” he said.

The Geraldton Hockey Association is now taking steps to repair the turf to ensure the safety of its players.

“That turf has got to last us another three years and we are in serious trouble if it can’t be fixed,” he said.

The Geraldton Hockey Association is in a tight race to have the fields in prime condition for a competition on February 21 and 22.

St Francis Xavier Cathedral has been another target of the corellas.

Father Robert Cross said the corellas were “out of control”.

He said the birds had caused up to $10,000 damage to St Francis Xavier Cathedral’s roof by removing screws from metal sheeting and chewing through lead flashing.

“We are just about to spend over $1 million re-roofing the cathedral, and it would be nice to have some assurance the corellas aren’t going to cause damage again,” he said.

“It is a serious issue.”

He said they congregated in certain areas and just decimated the place.

“They are discriminatory as well,” he jested.

“They don’t hang around the Anglican Church.”

He said they were doing damage to both the natural environment and buildings.

“They are in plague proportions, and if they were mice or rats we would be doing something about it,” he said.

“It has gotten to the point where you have to wear a hard hat and raincoat around town.”

A Department of Parks and Wildlife spokesperson said the department had been assisting the City of Greater Geraldton with the issue.

The spokesperson said the department was not aware of any previous use of firecrackers for scaring corellas, and that reducing food availability was one of the best methods for relocation.

The spokesperson said a cull program in Geraldton was unlikely to be effective, given the “opportunity for replenishment by birds from adjacent areas”.

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