Australia's rare birds of prey are under constant threat -- from man. The birds are?
CU Birds of prey in Tasmania, Australia (3 shots)
CU PULL BACK TO MV Bird of prey being examined by Nick Mooney, wildlife officer at Battery Point, Hobart
CU Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle (4 shots)
CU Peregrine Falcon (6 shots)
MV Mooney brings masked owl to Veterinary Surgeon Barrie Wells
CU Owl undergoing treatment (4 shots)
SV Swamp hawk is released into air by Mooney
CU Mooney speaking
SV Bird released into wild returns to natural habitat
MALONEY: "Australia's birds of prey, admired for their fierce beauty, but ill-treated in spite of it. In Tasmania, the National Parks and Wildlife Service is doing something to redress the balance, treating birds after they've been injured by man. Wildlife officer Nick Mooney of Battery Point, Hobart, has a dedicated interest in birds of prey. Now 24, he's been handling or caring for them half his life and its rare for him not to have wounded or recovering birds perched somewhere in his house.
"Australia's biggest eagle, the Tasmanian Wedgetail is a target for the indiscriminate shooter."
MOONEY: "There's a shotgun pellet still in the left wing there. That is why it is hanging. We can't get them out. There's damaged nerves there, we can't fix them."
MALONEY: "She'll never fly again?"
MOONEY: "Oh no, she won't fly again. Also she had a pellet in the left eye. You could see the pellet move when she rolled her head around and we managed to get that out all right so she's more comfortable there."
MALONEY: "The Peregrine Falcon is symbolic of the world's swiftest birds of prey. To its main persecutor, man, it is now important for another reason....research into the harmful effects of pesticides."
MOONEY: "The Peregrine is found virtually all over the world. Because it is so widespread it allows you to directly compare data from widely different places. It's a unique chance to do that. Also since the bird is at the top of the food chain, it concentrates all these pesticides. That, combined with susceptibility, gives you another unique chance to compare. There used to be 400 to 500 pairs nesting regularly in the Eastern United States. Now they're extinct as a breeding species. The story is repeated everywhere."
MALONEY: "Whether many of Nick Mooney's birds do fly again usually depends on Barrie Wells. He is a veterinary surgeon in private practice, but to the birds of prey he is more of a public benefactor. He treats any birds from an eagle to a masked owl for the wildlife service at a nominal fee.
"The main aim of the treatment is to allow the birds to be returned to the wild. If the injuries are too severe to allow a bird to fend for itself again, it will still be treated and kept for breeding or research. The success rate is high and this the wildlife service attribute to prompt professional treatment and experienced post-operative care. For the swamp hawk, a brief spell in a big aviary to strengthen the wing for flight.
"And then it is back to the wild."
MALONEY: "How do you feel when you get one that has been busted up and you've patched it up and let it go?"
MOONEY: "Oh it's terrific. It's the reward of the whole thing I think. Words can't describe it."
REPORTER: MAL MALONEY
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Australia's rare birds of prey are under constant threat -- from man. The birds are often the target of indiscriminate marksman. They also suffer from such things as pesticides. In an effort to protect the endangered species, Tasmania has set an example. Its National Parks and Wildlife Service has set up special hospitals for injured birds. Here, with a report on the work involved, is Mal Maloney of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.