Retired pastoralist warns of new camel threat

Zach RelphCountryman
Feral camels roam across Warrawagine in 2010 when it was owned by retired pastoralist Robin Mills.
Camera IconFeral camels roam across Warrawagine in 2010 when it was owned by retired pastoralist Robin Mills. Credit: Nic Ellis

A retired northern WA pastoralist says government investment is the silver bullet to defeating a feral animal threat crippling the State’s rangelands — camels.

Former Warrawagine Station owner Robin Mills warned wild camels would continue to wreak havoc at pastoral leases unless a State or Federal Government-backed culling program was implemented.

Mr Mills, who was once dubbed the “minister of camels” by fellow pastoralists, contacted Countryman after Prenti Downs Station manager Jack Carmody shone a light on the increasing pastoralist-camel battle.

He said WA’s camel population was a “huge problem” and culling was the only solution.

“The only answer is to shoot to waste to get numbers under control,” Mr Mills said.

“There is nice meat on them.”

He added that camels were building numbers again.

Mr Mills, 77, led an almost 25-year fight against rampant wild camels, after acquiring the Warrawagine lease in 1992, before retiring at the end of 2016 and moving to Perth.

Wild camels would emerge from the Great Sandy Desert onto Warrawagine, about 140km east the nation’s hottest town Marble Bar, looking for water and food during sweltering conditions.

Despite now residing more than 1500km from his old cattle station, Mr Mills said the rangelands’ camel issue still struck a cord and he hoped a culling program would be established.

In March, WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTier pledged up to $50,000 to the State’s five biosecurity groups to control wild camels.

Mr Carmody said the investment would have little impact and called for a camel meat market to be established in WA to put the pest’s meat to use, without introducing a kill bounty.

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