Council vows 'drastic action' after foreshore trees poisoned
RATEPAYERS will be forced to foot the clean-up bill after dozens of foreshore trees in the Point Vernon area were targeted and killed.
The council has since promised "drastic action” against the environmental vandals in the wake of rampant tree poisoning along the popular tourist strip.
At least 50 trees in the Gatakers Bay area are dying after being poisoned over the last few weeks.
It brings the total poisoning count to over 100 in three different sites across Point Vernon.
Last year, up to 80 trees were poisoned along Mant St and the Esplanade.
Councillor David Lewis said the situation was as bad as he's ever seen and the Fraser Coast council would be taking "stern action” to deter the vandals.
He said the recent actions would end up costing ratepayers thousands of dollars in clean-up and re-vegetation.
"We're going to have to look at... putting up large barriers to protect new vegetation and reverting to... very large signs alerting the public to be on the lookout for people destroying trees,” Cr Lewis said.
"We're looking at a range of measures: CCTV and patrols are options.”
"Frankly, we can't continue to put up with this criminal activity from otherwise law-abiding citizens, we suspect.
"My message to the people responsible is you ought to have some respect for your community, your neighbours and the ratepayer who has to foot the bill in fixing this up.”
Cr Lewis said it had got to the stage where the council would look at prosecution, should tree poisoners be caught.
In 2017, a Hervey Bay resident compensated the council $20,000 in an out-of-court settlement after being caught killing trees in Point Vernon park-land with herbicide.
Carol Bussey, who planted some of the trees at Point Vernon's ESA Park, said the poisoners needed to understand the effort it took to getting these plants ready.
Ms Bussey, a member of the Fraser Coast branch of Wildlife Preservation Society Queensland, said it was sad to see poisoning was occurring in an area with such an abundance of wildlife like turtles and birds.
"There's green turtles out at Gatakers, they nest along the foreshore and there's coral reefs out there,” Ms Bussey said.
"If you have sediment flowing out it will damage the reefs terribly.
"It's a shame to see that the area is being threatened by the killing of vegetation.”
Esplanade resident Peter Duck said it was concerning to see the use of herbicide in some of the cases due to the Esplanade being a place for everyone.