8 May 2024

‘Excrement goes into the lake’: Griffith Council votes down motion to keep animals at Lake Wyangan

| Oliver Jacques
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Animals at Lake Wyangan

Animals at Lake Wyangan are set to be rehomed after a decision at Tuesday’s Council meeting. Photo: Griffith City Council.

Griffith City Council will proceed with removing animals from Lake Wyangan, after voting down a motion to reverse this decision at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday (7 May).

In April, Council decided peacocks, emus, fallow deer, chickens, a kangaroo, cockatoo and other animals would be taken away from the Lake Wyangan Picnic Area and be rehomed, after a State Government audit found the facility they inhabit was “unacceptable”.

On Tuesday, councillors Anne Napoli, Christine Stead and Dino Zappacosta put forward a motion to reverse this decision and thus keep the animals at the lake.

The trio presented a petition from Griffith residents with more than 1000 signatures supporting their action.

“Children are very upset about removing the animals,” Cr Napoli said. “Our job is to listen to the needs and wants of the community.

“It’s a wonderful facility that families can go and have a picnic; it’s free; kids can go and see the animals and feed [them].”

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The State Government audit found the animals were not having their health checked every day, their enclosure did not have a proper fence to prevent unauthorised entry and there was no staff to look after the animals on weekends.

Mayor Doug Curran said Council would need to spend considerable funds to increase fencing and pay staff overtime to care for the animals.

“If the animals were to be removed, we’d save $40,000. If they weren’t to be removed, we’d incur a one-off cost of $56,000 [fencing and gates] and an ongoing cost of $30,000 [weekend staffing],” he said.

Cr Zappacosta told the mayor: “You’ve [also] made a lot of statements regarding … how [animal] excrement goes into the lake, which is something we don’t know about.

“So you don’t know the downward from the animals is into the lake, you don’t know that? … the [animals] are all uphill from the lake,” Mayor Curran responded.

Peacock Lake Wyangan

Two peacocks at Lake Wyangan are among the animals to be removed. Photo: Facebook/Gil and Joy – EATS Australia.

There were passionate arguments on both sides of the debate at the council meeting.

“A lot of kids today, the only chicken they’d see is at KFC,” Cr Croce said. “To some kids it’s pretty damn exciting … I would be in favour of keeping the animal … I think price wise we could make it manageable.”

Cr Blumer said: “Although I sympathise greatly, I don’t agree … I don’t think it’s council’s role to operate a zoo. I don’t think we’ve got the skills … when you think about the other things that we need to spend our money on in the community.”

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Mayor Doug Curran and councillors Glen Andreazza, Shari Blumer, Jenny Ellis, Chris Sutton and Laurie Testoni voted against the motion to effectively keep the animals at the lake, while councillors Anne Napoli, Dino Zappacosta, Manjit Lally, Simon Croce, Melissa Marin and Christine Stead voted for it.

This meant the vote was tied at six-all, with Mayor Curran able to cast a deciding vote to defeat the motion.

Mayor Curran has said the animals would not be put down and that council would put out expressions of interest for rehoming them.

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