AERIAL baiting of wild dogs at an optimum delivery rate of 40 1080 baits per kilometre has been shown to eliminate more than 90 percent of wild dogs in the baited areas in north-east New South Wales.
The finding has come from research completed in 2013 and published in February this year, conducted to underpin a proposal to increase the allowed aerial 1080 baiting rate per linear kilometre.
NSW DPI has an application before the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to lift the general labelling requirement for aerial baiting from 10 baits/kilometre up to 40 baits/kilometre.
NSW Department of Primary Industries principal research scientist, Peter Fleming, said the research was conducted at the request of the authority, who needed scientific data to support the APVMA bait rate.
“In 2008, the APVMA reduced the aerial 1080 baiting rate to manage wild dogs in regional NSW from 40 baits to 10 baits per kilometre, following a national review,” Dr Fleming said.
“Now, after conducting one of the largest, long-term projects of its kind, we have the scientific evidence to support a rate of 40 baits per linear kilometre.
“From 2007 to 2013, 132 wild dogs were trapped and fitted with GPS collars, and tracked before and after baiting in north-eastern NSW,” Dr Fleming said.
“The study compared the two bait rates by quantifying the mortality rate of wild dogs in aerial baiting areas.
“Success was measured by the number of GPS-collared dogs which did not survive the baiting,” he said.
“The results were very clear, 90.6pc of the collared wild dogs exposed to aerial baiting at 40 baits per kilometre died, just 55.3pc died at the 10 baits per kilometre rate and collared wild dogs, which remained outside the baiting zones survived.”
Dr Fleming said NSW DPI is confident in recommending aerial baiting at a rate of 40 baits per linear kilometre to effectively minimise wild dog numbers in areas where they impact on the environment and community along the Great Dividing Range.
National Wild Dog management co-ordinator Greg Mifsud supported the NSW DPI application, but didn’t believe a rate of 40 baits/kilometre will be needed in many areas where a wider suite of wild dog control measures are also used.
He said research data has shown that in isolated areas of limited access where no other control methods are possible, a minimum of aerial baiting of 40 baits per kilometre was needed for effective wild dog control and to allow for loss of baits taken by foxes and pigs, or shifted by birds.
But in parts of Victoria, similar to the GDR area in NSW, aerial baiting at 10 baits/kilometres across small inaccessible areas was effective within regions where significant ground control measures were ongoing throughout the year.
Mr Mifsud said it has taken seven years since the completion of the research to analyse the data and to have the results peer-reviewed and published.
“At 10 baits per kilometre we were only potentially taking out half the radio collared dogs in the population,” Mr Mifsud said.
He said New South Wales Local Land Services have had an ongoing exemption to bait at 40 baits per kilometre in 2014 in areas where baiting was done at this rate before the APVMA set the national rate at 10 baits/kilometre.
“The results of the trial have been implemented operationally in NSW since 2014.”
Mr Mifsud said a rate of 10 baits/kilometre was quite effective in areas where other control methods were also being used.
“It’s all location dependent and relevant to the amount of additional control that is occurring.”
Mr Mifsud said lifting the APVMA aerial baiting requirement’s upper limit to 40 baits/kilometre would allow local wild dog groups to decide what rate they needed for effective control.
NSW DPI said it advises managers use follow-up control measures, including trapping and shooting, to keep wild dog numbers at acceptable levels.
Previous research has shown wild dog management programs need to reduce wild dog populations by at least 75pc to successfully manage the negative impacts of wild dogs.
The use of 1080 in controlling feral animals continues to play an important role in the protection of Australian native animal species, NSW DPI said.
Recently published in Wildlife Research 47, ‘Aerial baiting and wild dog mortality in south-eastern Australia’ the research was funded and supported by NSW DPI, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Australia Wool Innovation and the former Invasive Animals CRC.