The 'largest-ever' aerial baiting program is underway in the Northern Tablelands
A program to bait and kill wild dogs and foxes is underway in the Northern Tablelands across 500,000 hectares of private and Crown land.
Meat baits, laced with 1080 poison will be dropped from aircraft so they can reach inaccessible terrain.
According to the NSW Government, the Spring Aerial Baiting program will be the 'largest ever', in essence surmounting the Autumn 2020 baiting program that dropped more than 200,000 poisoned baits in May this year.
Minister for Agriculture and Member for the Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said the program will help mitigate the effects of predatory wild dogs and foxes.
"Wild dogs cause more than $22 million in damages and lost production in NSW annually," said Minister Marshall, "The NSW Government is united with landholders on the road to drought recovery, and the last thing they need to worry about is predators preying on spring lambs and calves.”
The program will be coordinated between the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the Northern Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS).
Paul Hutchings the General Manager of the Northern Tablelands Local Land Services said 0.2 ml of 1080 poison will be injected into 250g of mostly kangaroo meat and dropped every 25 metres over predetermined bait lines.
"If the baits are not taken by an animal they decompose in a normal way," Mr Hutchings said, "1080 concentrate is soluble in water so it will wash out in time with rain."
Mr Hutchings said research conducted by various government departments shows there is a limited impact on native flora and fauna.
However, this is strenuously debated by conservation groups who advocate for more humane and effective ways of controlling species introduced by humans.
Australia is one of the few countries that still use 1080 poison, which has been outlawed in most countries including the USA.
According to the Australian Wildlife Protection Council (AWPC), 1080 poison causes a very slow and painful death.
"It works by preventing the body’s muscles and organs from absorbing energy, failing the lungs and heart," a spokesperson for AWPC said," A death typically lasts between 8–24 hours for birds and 2–4 days for large mammals."
Mr Hutchings said the size of the meat baits makes it less likely other animals would ingest a lethal dose of 1080.
"Dogs and foxes are very susceptible to 1080," Mr Hutchings said, "Other animals are less so."
Advocate groups are also calling for the control programs to have better monitoring to gauge the success or otherwise of dropping poisoned baits.
Mr Hutchings said the animals die out in the landscape and the program coordinators don't actually see them die or recover the bodies.
"The way we measure our success is not by a headcount of dead animals," Mr Hutchings said, "We look at the predation impact on livestock."
The baiting program is generally funded through landholder rates, however, the 2020 spring program has been funded through the NSW Department of Primary Industries.