20 April 2013
By JANINE HILL
AFTER two years of recovery and rehabilitation from mistreatment, Dusty the sulphur-crested cockatoo had flown free for only six weeks before he was shot.
He is recovering in the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital after surgery to remove a pellet embedded in one of the bones in his leg, but his life is still in danger.
His injury has shattered wildlife carer Claire Smith, who spent two years helping him regain the strength and confidence to be a wild bird after he was stolen as a nestling and his wings brutalised to keep him grounded.
"I went to see him and to see that bird back in a cage, looking very miserable, it broke my heart," she said.
Ms Smith said Dusty was found wounded in Churchill St, Palmwoods, this week.
She said that although the pellet was removed from his leg on Thursday, there was a chance that Dusty might have nerve damage which would prevent his return to the wild, or worse, necessitate euthanasia.
Ms Smith is also worried about another cockatoo, Polly, who was released with Dusty and has not been seen.
"He had come back from a pretty awful start in life and the same with Polly," she said.
"She had a pretty awful wing injury which took months to get right.
"It was amazing to see the two birds flying free. They were really, really good for each other.
"It’s no small feat to get these birds back flying and then someone does this."
Ms Smith said she had come across other examples of wildlife that had been shot, including other parrots that had come into her care.
She said Australia’s wildlife was part of what made the nation special.
Tough penalties should b meted out to anyone who deliberately injured or killed wildlife to deter others from mistreating native animals, she said.
Ms Smith said Dusty’s plight had attracted attention on her Facebook page, Australian Wildlife News.
"It’s very comforting and it’s very sad at the same time because you just can’t ignore that Dusty’s been shot," she said.
Anyone with information on Dusty’s shooting should phone Palmwoods police station on 5445 0749.
If you find an injured native animal, phone the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital 1300 369 652, Wilvos on 5441 6200, or Wildcare on 5527 2444.