Cassowaries put in danger by people feeding them

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Cassowaries being fed by tourists
Cassowaries are changing their behaviour. PIC: Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Some people are still insisting on feeding Australia’s wild creatures and it’s continuing to cause real problems … and not just with dingoes.

Some 46 cassowaries have been hit and killed by vehicles near Kuranda and Mission Beach in north Queensland in the past two years, and authorities believe the endangered birds are losing their fear of people and putting themselves at risk.

Senior wildlife officer Dinouk Perera from Department of Environment and Science, said there were clear indications that cassowaries were becoming used to being fed, and that people had to stop and take stock of what the consequences of their actions could be.

“Feeding cassowaries can significantly change their behaviour in such a way that other people will be placed at risk of being approached and potentially attacked by the birds,” Mr Perera said. “Cassowaries are unpredictable, potentially dangerous animals and habituated birds have been known to act aggressively and lash out if they don’t receive a feed when confronting people in the forest.”

In a recent incident, one of the giant birds was filmed following a group of bushwalkers for seven minutes on a track in the Wooroonooran National Park on Queensland’s Atherton Tablelands.

One of the bushwalkers can be heard in the video telling her companion to be careful as he stops to let the large bird approach him on the trail.

“Just don’t engage,” she says.

Anyone caught feeding the birds could be fined $5,200. As well as increasing the risk of the birds being hit by vehicles, cassowaries heading into more suburban areas for food are also in greater danger of attack by dogs and other animals.

• Have you ever felt intimidated by a giant bird? Comment below.

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