Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary resident Rosie the brushtail possum, who is at risk of being destroyed.
Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary resident Rosie the brushtail possum, who is at risk of being destroyed.

Fate of seized sanctuary animals revealed

TWO of the animals seized from the Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary earlier this year will be euthanised.

The decision, released by the Department of Environment and Science, is the culmination of a battle between the state and the sanctuary which peaked when Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien called for the Premier to intervene.

He sided with the sanctuary, where volunteers wanted to keep animals who they said had been vet-checked, were healthy and not in pain but could not be released into the wild due to minor disabilities.

The department however eventually went ahead with the seizures.

A statement from the Department of Environment and Science on Friday said due to deformities, an Eastern blue-tongue lizard would be humanely euthanised, along with a laughing kookaburra.

"The eastern blue-tongue lizard has a significant and obvious spinal deformity that likely causes it ongoing, chronic pain and movement difficulties," a spokeswoman from the department said.

"The laughing kookaburra had, in addition to its obvious beak deformity, several bone abnormalities including curvatures and old wing fractures that had healed without proper treatment and in one case had created a false joint.

Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary resident Comet the kookaburra, who is at risk of being destroyed.
Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary resident Comet the kookaburra, who is at risk of being destroyed.

"It is likely that the wing abnormalities cause it ongoing chronic pain.

"Sadly, the animal will be humanely euthanised to end its pain and suffering."

Several animals were set to be released back into the wild, including the of four tawny frogmouths that were found to be in good condition.

The fourth had damaged feathers, but would be released when it passed a vet inspection.

A blind, 'obese' brushtail possum would also be assessed again, the spokeswoman said.

"The department takes no pleasure in recommending euthanasia for two of these animals, but this has always been about animal welfare and the health and wellbeing of wildlife is our top priority," she said.

"While the assessment process took place, the animals have been kept comfortable at a departmental wildlife facility and are receiving treatment to minimise their pain.

"The euthanasia will be carried out by the department's wildlife vet.

"We will not tolerate wildlife sanctuaries operating unlawfully or doing the wrong thing.

"The FCWS did not have a permit to rehabilitate animals, so our wildlife officers took them into their experienced care.

"This sad incident shows why it is crucial that any individual or organisation that takes possession of sick or injured wildlife has the necessary permit and expertise to properly care for them and rehabilitate them."

The wildlife sanctuary previously expressed disappointment at the lashing it had received from the State Government given it had been working closely with the department for some time before the animals' plight was made public.

For Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary's Jess Hockey it was a "slap in the face".

She claimed at the time DES has long been aware of licencing issues at the sanctuary, inherited from the former administration.

Well-intentioned, qualified wildlife carers, she said, were being punished for mistakes made by their predecessors despite doing everything "by the book" and working with authorities to get the best outcome for the sanctuary's animals.

Ms Hockey told the Chronicle this was only the latest instalment in a two-year saga, during which she had always been honest about the fact that while several staff members had the permits required to rescue and rehabilitate animals at their homes, the sanctuary as an organisation, did not.

She said when she and her team took over in 2018 following the controversial departure of former manager Ray Revill, an audit was carried out and a full list of animals (and their status as either legally acquired or rescued/in rehabilitation) was sent to DES.

A subsequent review was carried out and the sanctuary was notified of the decisions that had been made about the future of the animals including laughing kookaburra Comet, tawny frogmouth Squeak and Rosie the possum.

Ms Hockey claimed that since then, department staff had visited the sanctuary numerous times over the years to seize other animals and take them to zoos but never the concerning trio.

"Then, all of a sudden we had to surrender them," she said

Ms Hockey believed the department had only taken a hard line and spoken against the sanctuary because it was caught off-guard by the public outcry surrounding the plan to put down three animals.

"It's not fair," she said

"Our fight is for the animals."

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