Wednesday, 7 August 2019

And still the horror of 1080 continues

Berenice Walters began her fight against 1080 in 1976 and never gave up the battle.

1080 (Sodium mono fluoroacetate) had been banned in the USA in 1972 when it was realised secondary and tertiary poisoning had a substantial effect on non-target mammals and birds.

In July 1976 Premier Neville Wran stated he was “horrified at the indiscriminate use of 1080 poison and contamination of our wilderness areas.” 


He immediately, called a Dingo Seminar to be held to question the use of 1080 and the practice of aerial baiting for predator control.

In 1977, despite Mr Wran’s intervention concerning aerial baiting in national parks a year earlier the horror of the practice continued elsewhere putting other wild life at risk in the maniacal pursuit to exterminate the dingo.

For 200 years many Australians believed, without question, our heritage was not worth protecting if it interfered with making money. They also believed, without question, the only good Dingo was a dead Dingo.

Berenice was not prepared to stand by in mute horror like most of her countrymen as the mass slaughter of wildlife by aerial baiting continued.

The general public blindly accepted baiting was done in winter because it was the time of year when dingoes were most savage and did the most damage.

However, it is the time of year when the female and her devoted mate are scrounging for food to support their puppies. The poisoned adults die an excruciating, long and panic-stricken death, whether they be the stock killing culprits or not, desperately struggling to return to their pups. Alone, the pups slowly starve to death, or fall prey to other hungry predators, while pitifully searching for their missing parents; starvation forcing them from the safety of their den.

Through the media, Berenice constantly questioned how much longer white man, and his sheep and cattle, would be the nation’s only concern.

Even in the mid 1970s a large section of the community was horrified at the continued use of aerial baiting yet, a minority group had permission to proceed with this highly questionable practice, and, with a minimum of publicity, contaminate the whole of the environment.

The situation frightened Berenice.

Domestic dog breeders more frequently were stipulating any dogs sold were not to go to country areas where aerial baiting had been carried out.

It was not unusual for people returning to the city with sick dogs to be warned by their vet about the possible hazards of drinking in streams possibly contaminated by aerial baiting.

In the winter of 1978, aerial baiting was again approved in national parks, although following the "Dingo Seminar", at least Ministerial approval had to be granted. 



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