1080 baiting no solution say scientists

WILD dog baiting programs, such as that recently promoted by Gympie Regional Council, have wrecked the environment and damaged farming livelihoods, according to award winning Australian scientists and graziers Arian Wallach and Adam O'Neill.

Speaking in Gympie on Sunday, the couple said they had proved their point about 1080 baiting by successfully managing the vast Evelyn Downs cattle station in central Australia for two years with no pest control and no pest problems. The two were part of the research team which last year won Australia's top environmental science award, the Eureka Prize, for research showing that stable dingo packs pay their way by regulating smaller predators like feral cats and foxes and herbivores like kangaroos and feral rabbits.

They say the pig plagues which are currently damaging macadamia and other orchard industries around Gympie are a direct result of the baiting now being heavily promoted and massively subsidised by the State Government and Gympie Regional Council.

"People don't seem to remember 20 years ago when we didn't have 1080 baiting and we didn't have wild dog problems," Mr O'Neill said. "I was living at Tallebudgera when they first baited Springbrook National Park and suddenly all the farmers had wild dog problems. So they baited some more and it's just spread.

"It's like an addiction. They don't know what else to do so they bait more and it just gets worse. You kill the pack leaders and you get a whole lot of juvenile delinquents making a mess.

"You just have to let it settle down again and it might take years.

"It only took six months at Evelyn Downs though," Dr Wallach, a James Cook University ecologist said. Managing the station allowed them to restore stability by making sure wild dogs were not baited.

"A lot of farmers don't like baiting, but the social pressure is enormous, even violent," she said.

The couple passed through Gympie on their way home to central Queensland.

Gympie Times

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