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Better get a lawyer owl. Better get a real good one

March 1, 2014
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Two of nine young owls brought in to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. Brought from different areas around the Gold Coast the owls are mainly victims of habitat destruction and rely on people to give them a voice in the government and environment courts. Sadly for wildlife in times of increasing development pressure, the Abbott Government has just cut all funding to the Environmental Defenders Office. Photo by Mic Smith

By Mic Smith for Blank Magazine

When nine boobook owls arrived at the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital around the same time, logic told wildlife veterinarian Michael Pyne that habitat destruction was mostly to blame.

The owls nest in old trees with hollows, so it was far more likely to be chainsaws or bulldozers than storms that caused their distress.

The boobooks didn’t come from one place, their homes were as far afield as the Sunshine Coast and New South Wales. But they were all brought in by people who share a strong compassion for living things.

Dr Pyne is a pragmatist, he knows development can’t stop, but he is part of the Australian society’s machinery that protects nature’s creatures when they are most vulnerable.

The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is another part of that machinery. It provides free legal aid on environmental issues.

When habitat is destroyed, people find boobook owl nestlings on the ground, they find koalas wandering lost on sporting ovals, they find whales and dolphins injured by boatstrikes, pollution or entanglements. If you are concerned that a new development is a danger to threatened species or ecosystems, there might be a legal recourse.

The Environmental Defender’s Office in your state will help you decipher environmental planning by-laws and legislation. They’ll point out the pertinent clauses in the legislation, and the relevant laws and precedents. With their free legal advice and 20 years of experience advising communities, you can make more than an emotional appeal. You can give trees, plants and animals a voice that is a command not a whine.

The Abbott government, however, just wielded the proverbial axe to the EDO and cut all its Federal funding in December.

Every EDO office in every state was stripped of the Federal money that they have relied on for 20 years.

It’s a double blow to the Queensland EDO because it also lost its state funding recently under the Newman government.

Ouch.

To read more go to my story in Blank Magazine.

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Thanks to donations and sponsors Currumbin Wildlife Hospital have been able to release these nine owls back into the areas where they were found.

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