Petition to save Mandurah's wildlife receives huge support

Community involvement: Skipper Rick Gerring, who started the petition for a Mandurah-based wildlife officer, aboard his vessel 'Sea Spirit'. Photo: Supplied.

Community involvement: Skipper Rick Gerring, who started the petition for a Mandurah-based wildlife officer, aboard his vessel 'Sea Spirit'. Photo: Supplied.

Nearly 26,000 people have signed a petition to the state government requesting dedicated wildlife officers be based in the Peel region.

The petition was started by local tour business operator Rick Gerring on April 6 and reached more than 10,000 signatures in the first week.

Mr Gerring, who has lived in Mandurah for more than 30 years and is the owner of Soulmates Charters, said he was amazed when he recently found out Mandurah didn't have its own Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions wildlife officers.

"Considering the scale of the waterways and the diversity of the region's animal and birdlife I thought it would be something we would already have," he said.

Speaking to local wildlife volunteers though, Mr Gerring realised this wasn't the case and decided to get the community behind the issue.

"Wildlife volunteers have been lobbying the state government for over a year for a Mandurah-based DBCA officer but they haven't gotten anywhere," he said.

"This is the people's voice. We voted them into government and people are telling them they want an officer. It's something they need to listen to."

There are currently only a dozen DBCA officers to cover the metro area from north of Perth and all the way down to Bunbury, which is an enormous workload.

Mr Gerring said it made sense for the government to add staff and base them in Mandurah as it would ease the existing officer's workload, provide easier access to Bunbury, and improve the response times for strandings and other urgent rescues, which currently can take weeks.

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"If they were based here, maybe at the new marine centre that's being built, they could do more to educate the public about our wildlife," he said.

Once considering a career as a marine biologist, Mr Gerring is passionate about Mandurah's environment.

"It's part of the reason why we live in Mandurah; the beauty of nature," he said.

"We've got so much here to be grateful for; the reef system, ocean, estuary, the Ramsar wetlands area. We need a holistic approach for our environment and wildlife.

"Tourism is the main industry in Peel, so it's not just an environmental issue, it's a tourism and economic issue.

"If we start losing breeding dolphins, where are we going to be in five to 10 years?

"Businesses will close, the lack of employment will make people move away.

"The flow on effect is huge."

Mr Gerring has forwarded the petition to Premier Mark McGowan, as well as Minister for Tourism David Templeman and Minister for Environment Amber-Jade Sanderson.

However, it's still not too late to sign the petition here.

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