JUST over the hill from Christine Dean Smith’s patch of paradise in Mount Rankin is a concern that she says is so deadly that she fears for not only her life, but that of her beloved pets and the community at large.
In April, around 40,000 aerial baits containing the toxin 1080 will be dropped on private land around the Mount Rankin and Billywillinga areas at a rate of 40 baits for every square kilometre.
A Central Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) spokeswoman said the baiting program would directly target wild dogs and it was a collaboration between landholders, pest groups, public land managers and the LLS.
“Wild dogs are impacting on livestock and native animals within the region,” she said.
“LLS has received reports of attacks on over 1000 sheep, goats and calves in the Central Tablelands region in 2018. The area being impacted has continued to expand despite efforts by the affected landholders.”
The LLS spokeswoman said aerial baiting was a “critical component of an integrated approach to wild dog management which includes ground baiting and trapping programs”.
Local Land Services has received reports of attacks on over 1000 sheep, goats and calves in the Central Tablelands region in 2018.Local Land Services spokeswoman
Each bait will be placed in a 250 gram parcel of red meat and once consumed it stops the function of vital organs and leads to death.
“Only a small amount of 1080 is needed to kill wild rabbits, feral pigs, foxes, feral cats and wild dogs,” the LLS spokeswoman said.
But Ms Smith, and a fellow neighbour from nearby Watton who asked not to be named, fear the baits could be inadvertently eaten by pets or native wildlife and lead to secondary poising.
The Watton woman said she once used 1080 baits on her property and while it quickly and effectively killed wild dogs and foxes, it also killed native animals.
“There was a large family of wedge-tailed eagles on there that were killed,” she said.
There was a large family of wedge-tailed eagles on there that were killed [by 1080 baits].Watton resident
She also found other dead birds of prey, wallabies and large lizards.
Ms Smith said she feared that if a bird of prey was to consume one of the baits that it could then fly kilometres away from the site before it died and it could then be eaten by another animal leading to secondary poisoning.
However, the LLS spokeswoman said secondary poisoning was “very unlikely” and that native marsupials were “less sensitive” to the bait and people and birds were the “most tolerant”.
Ms Smith said she feared some people living near the aerial drop zone did not know enough about the poison and therefore had not objected to it being dropped.
“I think a lot of people are going in blind and not doing their research,” she said.
I think a lot of people are going in blind and not doing their research.Mount Rankin resident Christine Dean Smith
“They’re told it’s the cheapest and most effective way of controlling wild dogs.”
Ms Smith said the last time she saw a wild dog on her property was two years ago and it did not kill any of her stock or pets.
Could water be contaminated?
Ms Smith said any baits inadvertently dropped into the Macquarie River, which passes through the drop zone, could contaminate the water.
The LLS spokeswoman said 1080 dilutes and degrades rapidly in water.
“The very low quantity of 1080 concentrate, 0.2ml in each bait, will be insignificant within a waterway,” she said.
She said 1080 was rapidly degraded by microbial action and that there were microbes within the baits, soils and water.
The 1080 concentrate is injected into the middle of the bait reducing the likelihood of any leaching.Local Land Services
“The 1080 concentrate is injected into the middle of the bait reducing the likelihood of any leaching,” she said.
“1080 dilutes and degrades rapidly in water. The very low quantity of 1080 concentrate, 0.2ml in each bait, will be insignificant within a waterway.
“Seasonal conditions affect how long baits will remain toxic after being put out. Things like the time of year, the amount of rain and the type of bait will all have an influence.”
What happens to the carcasses?
They will not be removed, the LLS spokeswoman said.
“There is not a requirement to remove carcasses with aerial baiting as it is unlikely carcasses will be found in the inaccessible areas being baited and they pose a low level of risk,” she said.
Notifying residents and neighbours
Ms Smith and her friend from Watton said they were not advised about the aerial bait drop and only discovered it was happening when a friend posted about it on social media.
The LLS spokeswoman said it would notify neighbours about this baiting in accordance with “strict guidelines”.
“Notification will occur in line with this including public notices in local media, signage and mail outs,” she said.
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