Patricia Gill, Denmark Bulletin
A bird sanctuary will be established north of a temporary fence in Wilson Inlet with two dog access paths over Prawn Rock Channel island to the off leash area.
The sanctuary comes into effect on July 14 and is important to protect migratory shore birds which travel the 20,000-25,000km East Asian Australasian Flyway to nest at Prawn Rock Channel and Morley Beach in Wilson Inlet.
There is a proposal to construct a central path on Prawn Rock Channel Island to a bird hide.
The placing of seasonal temporary fencing in 2014 to discourage dogs and their owners from entering the sensitive area met with ﬁerce opposition.
Denmark Bird Group presented a proposal to the Shire of Denmark for the sanctuary in 2018 after the DBG and Birdlife Australia had monitored birdlife in the inlet since 2009.
A petition with 412 signatures from Dog Owners of Denmark Inc. submitted to the Shire in March by Karen Winer called for the southern boundary of the then proposed bird sanctuary to be moved north.
The petition also called for the western boundary to be moved 5m east to allow community and dog use of a small strip of Prawn Rock Channel Island which had always been used for this purpose.
Petitioners were protesting about the shrinking public space for dog exercise.
Brad Kneebone of DBG welcomed the decision at the June 21 meeting not to remove an extra 30m strip on the proposed sanctuary’s southern boundary.
The decision came in a motion from Councillor Donna Carman but after Cr Nigel Deven port’s motion to remove the strip lapsed for want of a seconder.
Cr Carman’s motion was supported 5-1 and aimed to protect the section of beach which DBG considers to have high conservation value.
Meanwhile maintaining the two access paths was desirable for dog owners.
Mr Kneebone said the council decision on June 21 restored the southern boundary of the sanctuary to the position acknowledged at the council’s March meeting.
But earlier in the meeting he had been disappointed that the ofﬁcer recommendation was for the access track from the bridge along the current northern path.
He said the access paths should not be determined in a year when water levels were so high.
DBG preferred the southerly route as it provided more distance from birds and hence a better buffer from disturbance.
Mr Kneebone said the outcome was a compromise but the DBG would work with the Shire towards having a sanctuary, ﬁrst, to beneﬁt the birds but also to have it respected as an asset for the Denmark community.
“The DBG will also work on creating wider awareness and appreciation of the need and beneﬁt of the sanctuary,” he said.
Shire chief executive David Schober welcomed the council’s decision as putting the bird sanctuary issue to rest.
“The topic of a bird sanctuary at Prawn Rock Channel Island has been kicking around in our community for many, many years,” he said.
By engaging with community extensively on the issue for many years, the Shire had achieved an understanding of the many different opinions and uses at the site.
High-ﬂying help for migratory birds
Microlight pilot Milly Formby from Newcastle, NSW, is circumnavigating Australia to advocate for shorebirds that migrate to Australia from the Siberian Arctic.
She will talk at the Denmark Environment Centre on Friday at 4pm.
Milly’s circumnavigation of Australia (20000km) will emulate the migration ﬂight of shorebirds to and from the Arctic regions.
She plans to undertake the migration with the shorebirds in her microlight on their return to the far northern hemisphere.
A big part of her mission is promoting education about shorebirds to schools and guiding students into the STEM approach on ecosystems via specially developed online material.
The talk at the Denmark Environment Centre will include a presentation of Milly’s book, A Shorebird Flying Adventure.
Milly will ﬂy over Wilson Inlet and the Bird Sanctuary to familiarise herself with the Denmark shorebird habitats.
This article appeared in the Denmark Bulletin, 30 June 2022.