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1080 baiting is effective and efficient invasive pest management

I feel I must respond to the letter, Not a fan of 1080 baiting published in the Warwick Daily News on December 21, 2017. Much of the letter is not based on fact and it may serve to undermine the efforts of Southern Downs Region landholders and the level of wild dog control they have worked so hard to achieve. I would also like to correct some of the contributor’s points on Southern Downs Regional Council’s Invasive Pests Control Scheme (IPCS).

Feral animals such as wild dogs inflict terrible pain and suffering on sheep, cattle, other livestock and domestic pets. They also have disastrous impacts on native fauna, not to mention the livelihoods and mental wellbeing of our farmers. Council’s wild dog control programs (and indeed all of our invasive pests control activities) are guided by scientific research into best practice control methods. Research shows that the most effective and efficient form of broad scale wild dog control is coordinated 1080 baiting. In areas containing inaccessible breeding and dispersal habitat this includes aerial 1080 baiting. The more comprehensive the baiting coverage, the greater the level of control achieved. 1080 is specifically targeted to dogs, foxes and cats - it is not an indiscriminate killer.

Native animals have a high tolerance to the toxin as it is naturally occurring in a range of native plants. It is true 1080 will kill anything if used at high enough concentrations, but the rates and distribution methods permitted for use in Queensland prevent this from happening. The use of 1080 in Queensland is highly regulated through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and Queensland Health and Council’s accredited operators are required to report routinely to DAF on usage.  

Such agencies as CSIRO and the Queensland and New South Wales Governments have published scientific papers on beneficial impacts of aerial 1080 wild dog baiting to known spotted quoll populations. Some of the research has been conducted in the Southern Downs Region. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) employ 1080 ground and aerial baiting in national parks to protect endangered native animals such as the Bridled Nail-tail Wallaby from feral predators such as wild dogs, foxes and cats. 

It is also worth noting the increase in the incidence of remote camera captures of native fauna since the introduction of Council’s aerial baiting program in the Traprock Region. Lyre birds, spotted quolls, scrub turkeys and koalas have all been captured on camera following the first few aerial baiting programs.  These were not seen when Council’s monitoring commenced. Feedback given by Landholders is telling Council officers that since the introduction of Council’s aerial baiting programs they are increasingly noticing a return of native wildlife to their properties.

Council doesn’t suggest eradication is realistic for any widespread, established invasive pests and is not the aim of the Invasive Pests Control Scheme (IPCS). Eradication is not mentioned once in any IPCS document. Council expects all land owners to control invasive pests, so as to reduce their spread and the impacts they may impose to other lands and the owners of those lands. Invasive pest control by land owners is required by law and has been for more than a 100 years.  If absentee landholders, who don’t control declared pests, are allowed to continue to do so, pests keep spreading and those doing the right thing have to address the widespread impacts of pests from neighboring properties.

Council endorses and expects best practice control methods to be employed by land owners because they are backed by science, provide the best results and are often the most cost effective for landowners. Council doesn’t wish to see people spending time and money on methods that don’t work. 

Council states in its IPCS documents that we have invasive pests on our land. Council has a pest management plan and annual action plan in place (copies publicly available on Council’s website) and have three full time officers controlling invasive pests on Council lands every day of the working week, except when weather doesn’t allow. Council does not expect anything more from land owners through the IPCS than what Council does i.e. have a control plan in place and work within your resources to achieve your plan.

Cr Cameron Gow

SDRC Rural, Environmental, Sustainability and Waste Management

Letter to the editor, published Warwick Daily News 29 December, 2017

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