Calliope snake threat sparks calls for new mowing policy
TWO Calliope residents are calling on Gladstone Regional Council to re-examine its policy on overgrown properties as their families face increasing threats from venomous snakes.
Kate McClusky has lived in the small town for two and a half years, and estimates in that time she has had close encounters with almost a dozen snakes - including highly venomous eastern browns.
They've been in her yard, in her garage less than a metre from her two-year-old son, and most recently one was found underneath her bed.
"We want to to be heard and action taken before a person or animal is killed," she said.
Ms McClusky and her neighbour Sharyne Hussey - who has had her own encounters with snakes in the past - believe the many overgrown vacant lots in Calliope are contributing to the snakes' numbers.
Ms Hussey has taken to mowing some of the vacant lots herself to reduce the risk to her own family.
"It is typical of developers to come in, develop land and then move on when things go bust," Ms McClusky said.
"They're not actually dealing with the properties they've bought in the meantime."
The pair's view that the long grass is responsible is supported by snake catcher Ashley Roberts.
Mr Roberts says he is called out to Calliope at least twice a week - and those are just the calls he has time to follow up.
"They don't actually live in those vacant blocks, but it makes it easy for them to access other blocks without stressing or coming across dogs or cats," he said.
"If the people who owned the blocks maintained them better, over time you'd see the number of snakes go down."
Also concerned about fire risk, Ms McClusky has contacted Gladstone Regional Council three times in the past three weeks about mowing the lots, but has been told there is little that can be done immediately.
Under the council's policy, the council must give notice to property owners that their lawn needs to mowed, and only if owners do not respond after a certain period of time is the council able to contract out the job and bill the landowner.
The council's fact sheet on the issue notes the process may take more than six weeks.
Councillor Peter Masters said responsibility for taking care of the properties ultimately lay with landowners but he encouraged people to report overgrown grass as soon as possible to start the process.
"Typically things don't move as quickly as people would like though - and I fully understand and appreciate where they're coming from," Cr Masters said.
"I think these people have genuine concerns.
"Our policy does get reviewed every two years, so we might take a look at that.
"But it is about trying to find that balance, because we do have to at least notify property owners and give them a chance as they may be unaware."
You can contact Gladstone Regional Council to report overgrown properties by calling 4970 0700.