Surveillance for a significant bird pest has been expanded on the South Coast, after an influx of detections.
Fifteen starlings have been trapped in the region in the past five months, compared with only one found in the previous four years.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development invasive species manager, Richard Watkins, said the number of starling lure traps had been increased to more than double this season in response to the detections.
“An additional 17 starling lure traps have been placed in the Bremer Bay and Manypeaks districts recently, where starlings were detected in the late 1980s,” he said.
“This is in addition to 66 trapping sites established in spring across a 280 kilometre area from Hopetoun to Cape Arid.
“Extending the surveillance program will help determine whether starlings have migrated to these areas, which have conditions that are suitable for breeding.”
Mr Watkins said department officers were concerned by the increase in starling numbers and were working to determine why it had occurred.
“Traditionally, we would expect to find groups of juveniles, however, all the birds we have found have been young adult females that were not breeding,” he said.
“We have also seen unprecedented numbers trapped in the Eucla area, with 161 starlings caught between September and December.”
People on the South Coast and adjacent Great Southern have been urged to report any suspected sightings to the department as soon as possible.
Starlings are small to medium sized birds that grow to about 21 centimetres high. The juveniles are mousey brown in colour, while the adults have glossy black feathers with a green and purple sheen.
Starlings are loud, aggressive birds that can severely damage high-value fruit crops, like cherries and grapes. They also consume spent livestock feed, disperse weed seeds and displace native birds.
Jodie Thomson/Megan Broad, media liaison
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