Farmers can lay bait for wild dogs
A captured wild dog. Photo: Supplied
FARMERS will be allowed to set poison baits on public land from next week in a new assault on wild dogs attacking livestock and wildlife in eastern Victoria.
Farmers will be able to set baits on public land at Ensay, about 75 kilometres north of Bairnsdale, under strict conditions.
The ''community baiting program'' could be copied in other farming areas hit by wild dogs.
Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said the baiting was ''a sensible initiative'' that allowed communities affected by wild dogs to work with the Department of Primary Industries.
He said wild dogs were having devastating impacts on native fauna, livestock and the profitability of farmers.
The scheme is one of a range of measures announced by the state government in recent days to fight wild dogs.
Baiting will also be conducted deeper into Crown land in some locations, and extra baiting has begun in 12 new locations that are remote or difficult to access.
Mr Walsh said the latter measure would see a further baiting of land on top of the existing ground baiting program conducted by the Department of Primary Industries. The department had engaged private contractors to do this.
For years farmers have been frustrated and suffered financial losses as livestock, particularly sheep, were injured or killed by wild dogs.
Tallangatta Valley farmer Michael McCormack said the community baiting program was a ''major step forward''.
''It's pro-active work in destroying dogs that obviously come in and attack our livestock,'' he said.
Mr McCormack, a livestock councillor with the Victorian Farmers Federation, said the wild dog problem had ''exploded'' in recent years. ''There's dogs in areas now where there were never dogs before.''
Until the late 1990s, Mr McCormack ran beef cattle and merino sheep. But after years of wild dog attacks on his sheep, he moved out of sheep.
''We ran a flock of 2000 merinos, and the dogs just came through and slaughtered the lambs. They used to eat the lambs,'' he said.
Under the community baiting program, Mr McCormack said, farmers would be able to lay ''manufactured 1080 baits'' after receiving training and accreditation.
Baits could be laid only as part of a co-ordinated and approved local effort, he said.
Baits must be at least 250 metres apart and must be buried at a depth of 10 centimetres. Where public land adjoined farmland, farmers could lay baits only within a three-kilometre buffer inside the public land from the farm boundary fence, he said.
A spokesman for the Victorian National Parks Association, Phil Ingamells, said: ''Any extension of wild dog baiting areas into likely spot-tailed quoll territory should be accompanied by monitoring of quoll populations before and after baiting programs take place.''
Mr Ingamells said the spot-tailed quoll was a threatened species that was known to take baits.