Crested terns killed on K’gari (Fraser Island)

Issued: 15 Jul 2021

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) is appealing for public help after a person in a four-wheel-drive ran into a flock of shorebirds on K’gari (Fraser Island) on July 12.

Manager of Compliance Michael Devery said witnesses told rangers they were on Waddy Beach and watched a four-wheel-drive deliberately drive through the flock of greater crested terns that were resting on the beach.

“When the witnesses got to the scene, they saw two deceased birds on the ground, and six injured birds unable to walk or fly,” Mr Devery said.

“They collected the six injured birds, took them to Orchid Beach and called rangers for help.

“When rangers arrived at Orchid Beach, four more crested terns had died and the remaining two had to be euthanised, which meant eight terns died needlessly.

“This was a distressing incident for the witnesses and for the rangers, and we ask visitors and residents to K’gari to respect the island’s wildlife.

“Unfortunately, the witnesses were unable to identify the make, model or colour of the four-wheel-drive because it was too far in the distance.

“Anyone who was in the vicinity of Waddy Beach on Monday and may have information is encouraged to call rangers on 4127 9150.”

Mr Devery said people need a Vehicle Access Permit to drive on K’gari, and the beaches are gazetted roads.

“That means all the road rules apply, including speed limits, the use of seatbelts and other driving regulations,” he said.

“The beaches on K’gari are a shared space, used by swimmers and fishers, shorebirds, wongari (dingo) and other wildlife.

“Under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, the penalty for deliberately harming or killing eight crested terns is $31,016.25.

“People are advised to slow down if they see wildlife on K’gari’s beaches, and rangers conduct daily compliance and education patrols.

“This is the third incident of crested terns being targeted on Queensland beaches in the past twelve months, with the other two incidents occurring on Bribie Island.”

Anyone with information can call 4127 9150 or 13 QGOV (13 74 68) and provide information anonymously.

Crested Terns fast facts:

  • The birds form flocks along coastal areas throughout Queensland
  • They feed mainly on small fish, plunging head-first into the water to catch them
  • Breeding takes place between October to December
  • Eggs are placed in shallow scrapes on the ground
  • Both sexes incubate the eggs