This article is not a scientific paper: It is an opinion expressed in writing.
Let us have a sensible conversation about the latest anti-agricultural crusade… the formal banning of the use of the chemical 1080 to eradicate invasive predators from agricultural areas in Australia.
[Reference: Natural Australian Toxin protecting plants and wildlife from invasive predators. By: Greg Mifsud Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre.]
As usual, much nonsense is expressed and much emotion is pointlessly expended when the matter of baiting invasive animal species in Australia is mentioned in many public forums. Invasive animal species in Australia are introduced animals such as wild pigs, foxes, wild dogs, rabbits and feral cats. Wild dogs and feral cats refer specifically to dogs and cats which have moved from a domestic pet environment to live like wild animals in our native land, and, in some cases peripheral to our urban communities. All of these introduced animals cause hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage to our native land; destroy tens of thousands of native animals each year and attack and kill thousands of head of livestock – sheep, cattle and poultry each year.
Also, as usual, my observations have caused me to conclude that almost all of the advocates of banning the use of 1080 baiting programmes have no experience in either using the material or in witnessing the devastation of wild dog attacks on sheep, cattle and poultry. In Queensland, alone, the damage/control bill now amounts to $120 million per year across the State. I have travelled across most of Queensland as part of my working life; I have seen, in Western Queensland, feral cats the size of small Labrador dogs. To reach this size, these animals must consume thousands of native birds and animals: the only effective way to apply control measures to this destruction is to use poison baits.
Riparian zones are destroyed by pigs, as are abundant commercial crops of corn, tomatoes and other market garden produce. Make no mistake there are tens of thousands of wild pigs in Western Queensland, shooting them out is not a sensible option. Wild dogs have begun to crossbreed with protection dogs such as Maremmas which brings specific human safety issues.
The poison bait, 1080, is sodium fluoroacetate, which occurs naturally in many Australian native plants. Consequently, most Australian native animals have developed a natural immunity to this poison: and this immunity protects them from the poison. Another important consideration is that many native animals are not interested in eating the baits.
Native animals and birds are not as threatened by 1080 as the advocates for change would have you believe- a comparative table below explains :-
How many mg of 1080 required to kill an adult…..
How many wild dog baits [ 6 mg ] would it take to kill an adult…
How many fox baits [ 3mg ] would it take to kill an adult…
This information came from the APVMA [ 2008 ] review for Finding on sodium monofluoroacetate…1080 poison. APVMA = Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
The manner in which this bait is laid, throughout rural areas, is also important to the circumstances in which it threatens native wildlife. Firstly, the intent to lay baits is widely publicised through local radio stations, the internet, a registered list of landholders emails, and written notices displayed in prominent places throughout the Shire. No one is in any doubt about the fact that 1080 baits are laid or about to be laid…notices are placed in local caravan parks and service stations to catch the passing tourist travellers…having due regard to their domestic pets.
The most destructive animal to the rural environment is the wild pig. Mobs of pigs create immense damage to the local environment. The most destructive animal to the livestock and pastoral industry is the wild dog. These are wanton killers, killing not necessarily for food, but just because they can! I have seen up to 20 domestic geese killed by a water hole by wild dogs, not one was eaten, they were just killed because they were there!
The poison bait 1080 is very, very effective against these predatory animals.
The use of poison baits is not pretty. It is a hard way for an animal to die. I am not going to judge whether it is easier to die by being ripped up in a wild dog’s mouth or dying because of 1080 poison. Neither way is pleasant. But life is hard in the Australian Bush, for humans and animals, and leaving aside the romance, it has always been that way.
Research programmes are currently following lines of enquiry into developing new poison baits; PAPP is one of them. It has been established that it is apparently a more humane poison than 1080, but it has limitations in the manner in which it is distributed, it must be buried for instance. This takes time and huge effort, resources which are just not available in today’s rural environment.
The flood of concern about the manner of the death of predatory animals is curious in that it takes no account of the cruelty to the livestock which is ripped apart by wild animals. It seems as if there is an anti-farming flavour to the criticism. Why is there no outcry about the cruel deaths of lambs ripped from their mothers during birth? Why is there no outcry about disembowelled calves littering a paddock? Why is there no outcry about the destroyed crops of corn, tomatoes, sorghum, canola etc. from mobs of wild pigs? Why?
Baiting any animal is a hard way for the creature to die. No one argues that.
What is relevant to this matter is the unbalance of the discussions surrounding the use of the baits. As in many cases in our world today, the moral police, encouraged by sensation-seeking media, pronounce judgements based upon emotion, not facts. Vote seeking politicians run with the community emotions without considering all matters relating to the subject and the whole circus rolls on pandering to the herd instinct of the mob.
If you live in an urban environment and you are concerned about damage to native wildlife, the single most important act you can take is to have your domestic pets neutered or spayed by veterinarians.
That single act will make a big difference.