Pastoralist gets the hump as feral camel crisis escalates

Zach RelphCountryman
WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan this morning announced further funding for wild camel control.
Camera IconWA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan this morning announced further funding for wild camel control. Credit: Ninti One

A pastoralist fending off an unprecedented wave of camels causing damage across the unseasonably bone-dry WA rangelands has killed more than 2000 of the feral pests this year to protect his cattle herd.

Prenti Downs Station manager Jack Carmody has shot 2013 camels at the pastoral lease, based about 250km east of Wiluna, since January 1 in an effort to reduce the mounting pest plague.

Extreme temperatures hampering the State’s northern pastoral area have pushed camels out of the Gibson Desert on to cattle stations in search for water and feed.

The humpbacked beasts are a declared pest in WA and landholders are required by State Government to control the animal on their properties.

Mr Carmody said this year’s influx had been the worst he had endured, noting camel-caused damage to Prenti Downs’ fencing, water points, cattle yards and even his herd of about 3200 Shorthorn breeders.

“This year alone, we’ve shot 2013 camels,” he said.

“They’ve damaged a lot of infrastructure but they’re also eating a lot of cattle feed.

“The camels have kicked and headbutted cattle and I’ve had to euthanise cattle that have been beaten by camels to the point of no recovery.”

This morning, WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan announced up to $50,000 would be available to the State’s five pastoral recognised biosecurity groups to control the feral herbivores.

The funding is available to the rangelands biosecurity associations in Kimberley, Pilbara, Goldfields-Nullarbor, Carnarvon region and Meekatharra region.

Ms MacTiernan said dry seasonal conditions had presented “ongoing challenges” to pastoralists battling wild camel populations.

“Boosting funding to the RBGs will help pastoralists to quickly address impacts of feral camels and put in place strategies for future management,” she said.

Mr Carmody has written to Ms MacTiernan outlining a strategy to control the State’s camel issue, which highlighted an opportunity to establish camel-meat processing sector in WA.

Despite the latest funding injection, Mr Carmody said it was unlikely to improve Prenti Downs’ camel issue.

“This isn’t going to change the situation on the ground,” he said.

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