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10/30/12

Plan B for wild dog control

IN THE coming weeks, a remote ground baiting operation will begin at 12 locations across North East Victoria and Gippsland.

The locations were selected on the basis of their proximity to livestock areas affected by the impacts of wild dogs and their remoteness and limited access to traditional wild dog control practices.

The program will replace the aerial baiting that was planned but has stalled because it was not approved by the Federal Government.

National Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee chair Michael McCormack said the committee was still pushing for aerial baiting rather than doing nothing while the submission was in political limbo, but the funding would be put into ground baiting.

"It is Plan B we still have the State Government funding for the aerial baiting program, which will now be used to target remote areas through ground baiting," he said.

"Ground baiting is not taking over from aerial baiting it is certainly not as good as aerial baiting.

"The two are best used in conjunction but unfortunately we have one phase we can not do at this stage."

Mr McCormack said the committee was calling for contractors to undertake the program as wild dog controller numbers were down and they shouldn't be taken away from their current work.

He said the ground baiting program would be carried out over short periods in October and May.

"This is 10 weeks after the pups are born; they are at their most vulnerable as weaners," he said.

"We understand baits won't kill all the dogs but we are trying to diminish the number of juvenile dogs that go on to become problem dogs."

The Victorian Wild Dog Advisory Committee also recently submitted a request to bait and hunt outside the three-kilometer buffer zone in Gippsland.

"We are using one area in Gippsland as a test case," Mr McCormack said.

"We are told the decision is imminent and, if we get approval, we are ready to go on other three or four sites in north Victoria to target areas which could be a real step forward."

Carboor producer Jeff Bussell runs sheep and cattle for meat production and his property is surrounded by Crown land and timber plantations.

While he supports the roll-out of the ground baiting program, he said its cost-effectiveness would be much lower than if aerial baiting was done.

"Any baiting done properly will have an impact but aerial baiting is more effective over rugged land," he said.

"The funding would go further with aerial baiting; it is as simple as that."

The baiting announcement came as Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh revealed 116,691 fox scalps and 337 wild dog skins had been collected across Victoria in the past 12 months.

Mr Walsh said the number of scalps and skins collected proved farmers and hunters had been motivated by the bounty.

While the bounty had been successful, he said effective wild dog control required a combination of measures.
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