Tuesday 24 January 2023

Our Wildlife at Risk by Berenice Walters 1979

Despite State Government intervention in the past, the horror of aerial baiting continues.  Why should the whole of our wildlife be put at risk in the maniacal pursuit of the extermination of the wild dog?

For 200 years we believed without question that our heritage was not worth protecting if it interfered with the making of money.

We believed without question that the only good Dingo was a dead Dingo.

Now we are expected to stand by in mute horror as the mass slaughter of our wildlife by aerial baiting continues.

The spectacle of local birds and pets dying in Moss Vale recently should have struck home what selective hand baiting can do.  Because we saw the results we were incensed.

Because we can't see what aerial baiting is doing must we hide our heads in the sand like the ostrich and pretend it does not exist?

We are told the reason for the baiting ... winter is the time of year when the Native Dog is most savage and does the most damage.

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 while the pups slowly starve to death, or fall prey to other hungry animals while pitifully searching for their missing parents, starvation forcing them from the safety of their den.

Positive extinction of some of our rarer native fauna must also be the end result of aerial and indiscriminate baiting.

For how much longer must the white man and his sheep and cattle be our only concern?

A large section of our community is horrified at the continued use of aerial, baiting and yet a minority group can be given permission to proceed with this highly questionable programme, and with a minimum of publicity, contaminate the whole of the environment

This frightens me.

It is no longer unusual to be requested by people with dogs for sale the animals not to go to country areas where aerial baiting has been carried out.

It is 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 that could be contaminated as a result of aerial baiting.

The use of 1080 poison was banned in the United States because it was recorded again and again that it does have a very substantial effect on non-target mammals and birds.

A whim of fashion - or a realisation of the possible dire effects of the indiscriminate use of such a highly dangerous poison.

With the continuance of the aerial baiting programmes to the north of the State, the usual crop of phone calls from concerned people and the media have been received - people frightened and frustrated at their inability to accept the necessity of this debatable method of controlling the wild dog; people who have huddled in their homes in anguish as the plane passed over on its ominous journey spelling death and destruction to what of us are proud to claim as our National Heritage.

No one is denying that wild dogs attacking stock must be controlled but has anyone the right to contaminate the whole of the environment, killing the innocent as well as the guilty, in this pursuit?

Don't let us sit back in ignorant satisfaction that aerial baiting is controlling the wild dog problem (despite the possible extermination of non-target mammals and birds).  Improved methods of control must urgently be found.

Berenice Walters.

* This article was included in Merigal Magazine in October 1979. In March 1980 it was sent as an open letter to newspapers. But, has anything really changed?

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