Imperial Lake Nature Park Ranger David Elston and Broken Hill Landcare volunteers have been left devastated by further destruction at the unique oasis they are transforming into an eco-friendly educational facility and now Barrier Police warn that they’re stepping up surveillance of the site.
Ranger Elston recently reported damage to the lakes caused by motorbike riders to Barrier Police but remains optimistic about the future of the big picture project saying that security measures taken today is an investment for future generations of tomorrow’s visitors to the nature park.
“Landcare is a community-based organisation whose important work schedule is being compromised – constantly diverted and delayed – by vandals who leave Landcare no other choice but to take costly measures to manage the damage regularly done to the nature park.
Landcare’s response will include significant investment in bollard style perimeter fencing incorporating electric fencing to areas with the capability of phone monitoring and alerts in the event of a fence breach, with additional signage along with the installation of more lighting poles and security cameras to the perimeters.
“Whilst it’s been disappointing to see the level of disrespect and ongoing damage caused by the same core group of selfish people, it’s uplifting to see the level of assistance we receive from NPWS [National Parks and Wildlife Service] West Branch, Barrier Police, and regular volunteers who help to monitor the site and report on intrusions.
“It’s important to remember that the lakes contain endangered species that are protected by the law, carrying heavy fines if harmed,” says Ranger Elston.
“For example, the Eel Tailed Catfish holds a ‘threatened population’ status in NSW so harming or taking of this fish carries fines of up to $220,000 and/or two years in prison. The population at Imperial Lakes being of exceptional preservation value and importance as the species is believed to have developed a unique set of genetics different to that of the species present within the Murray Darling system having been in isolation for many decades.
Meetings with senior police from the Barrier Police Command have seen a commitment for regular patrols, site monitoring with aerial drone surveillance and targeted response directed at the small core group of repeat offenders.
Barrier Police Crime Manager Detective Inspector Tom Aylett told the Barrier Truth trespassers will be prosecuted.
“Broken Hill Police remind all residents the Imperial Lakes area is NOT crown land or public land – it is now privately owned by Landcare who are rehabilitating the site for future public use.
“Police are aware fences are being regularly cut and motorbikes and vehicles entering the site. People who enter the site with dogs are of great concern given the sensitive ecological area including endangered species and nesting birds.
“The damage and desecration to native fauna and their habitat is serious and will be dealt with accordingly. Anyone found entering the site unlawfully will be prosecuted,” Inspector Aylett said.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Area Manager West Branch Jaymie Norris says they encourage a positive and understanding approach to living with wildlife and the Imperial Lakes site being developed by Landcare is a critical part of that future.
“It’s worth remembering all native birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals are protected in NSW by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act). There are exceptions under the BC Act, but even then, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 may be relevant.
To report taking of catfish from Imperial Lakes, call 1800 043 536 or Barrier Police on 08 8087 0299.