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Illegal wood hookers putting lives at risk

DATE 21/06/2011

Illegal woodcutters who have been active in the Barcoo area west of Smithton are risking lives – their own and those of legitimate foresty workers, according to Forestry Tasmania.

Forest officer James Fergusson has calculated up to 20 tonnes of wood has been felled along Williams Road, which turns off Barcoo Road, in recent weeks.

“The timber has all come from within 500 metres of a wedge tailed eagle nest.

“At least four trees have been felled within the eagle reserve set up to protect the species and one of those stumps is only about 50 metres away.”

Mr Fergusson said the nest had been identified as active in two of the past five eagle breeding seasons and a boom gate had been installed to provide further protection, but was ignored by the wood getters.

He said the condition of the stumps showed they were not very skilled in chainsaw technique either.

“It’s a wonder they haven’t been killed with the way they’ve been operating.

“In one instance the tree has obviously come down sideways from the position intended and in another a branch from a nearby tree has come down right onto the stump of the tree being felled when it was dislodged.

“It’s just luck that it didn’t hit the operator.

“The other worry is if they leave a tree hanging up in another as a lethal danger to some one coming along later,” Mr Fergusson said.

He said Forestry Tasmania was happy to work with people wanting to source domestic wood supplies from State forest if they did the right thing.

Permits are available at a reasonable cost from the Smithton office and staff can suggest an appropriate area.