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Missing rescue data casts doubts on effectiveness of policies to protect wildlife in NSW

Four years of wildlife rescue data is missing from the New South Wales government’s species tracking database BioNet, casting doubt over the accuracy of protection plans and development approvals.

A group of leading wildlife organisations estimates about 400,000 records of rescues are missing, including about 28,000 threatened species rescues.

Analysis of BioNet data shows in some local government areas, wildlife rescue data hasn’t been entered since mid-2019, despite being reported annually by dozens of wildlife rescue groups across the state.

Peter Stathis, the director of government relations at Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organisation, WIRES, said the site was meant to be a singular “source of truth,” but had suffered from years of under-resourcing.

“It’s meant to be the oracle,” he said.

“It’s problematic for government to prioritise this type of work.”

Sydney Basin Koala Network says the absence of data is a “gift for developers”.(Supplied: Reach Out Wildlife Australia )

The discovery was made by Sydney Basin Koala Network (SBKN), whose founder Jeff Angel said wildlife rescue organisations were angry the data they were legally required to report was not being used to inform development approvals.

“The absence of that data is a gift to the developers and may well have allowed the destruction of important habitat,” he said.

“Developers and their consultants are required to do wildlife studies of a site, but we all know animals move around and those animals get hurt, hit by cars, get rescued by wildlife groups.

“The Minns government needs to fix this quick if we are to have a planning approval system with integrity, particularly with the moves to fast track approvals.”

‘Working to upload wildlife records’

The SBKN’s own records from Campbelltown, where the controversial Mt Gilead Stage 2 housing development is awaiting approval, show 350 koala rescues since 2019, including 63 koala deaths.

However, no wildlife rescue data from Campbelltown has been recorded in BioNet since June 2019.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-04/nsw-bionet-missing-four-years-wildlife-recue-data-/102805330 Missing rescue data casts doubts on effectiveness of policies to protect wildlife in NSW

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