Claims bait program endangers pets

Daniel Mercer and Ben O'SheaThe West Australian
Claims bait program endangers pets
Camera IconClaims bait program endangers pets Credit: The West Australian

A group of Gascoyne residents including the vet immortalised by the movie Red Dog has attacked the State Government's key baiting program, claiming it recklessly endangers people's pets.

Ahead of planned aerial baiting drops inside Francois Peron National Park between March 24 and 26, the residents from the neighbouring town of Denham have sought to have it stopped.

Rick Fenny, whose real-life exploits as a veterinarian were featured in 2011's hit movie Red Dog, is backing the group.

At question is the use of 1080 baits, which are laced with a poison deadly to introduced pests such as cats and foxes but harmless to native animal species, which are immune to it.

Jane Garrett, a Denham local who is leading the charge against the bait's use, said there had been too many instances of people's pet dogs taking the bait and dying from it.

She said the Department of Parks and Wildlife, which manages the baiting program, should stop it or make sure more was done to keep it away from built-up areas.

"We have tried various means of negotiation to get the aerial baiting stopped and, if that cannot be, to extend the safe boundaries so that no more pets are killed," she said.

"This so far has not concluded satisfactorily and we believe that the planned baiting will continue - this is definitely not in the community interest."

DPAW director-general Jim Sharp defended the use of 1080 baits, while questioning whether they had in fact been the cause of dog deaths as claimed

Mr Sharp said the baits were crucial to protecting vulnerable native animals species and warned that abandoning the program would put at risk 15 years' worth of hard-won gains in eradicating pests.

He said the department had to meet a strict set of standards in running the program, including hand-placing some baits and maintaining a 500m buffer from park boundaries when aerially dropping them.

He also said the department always tried to alert residents to the risks of baiting and would work with Denham locals to address their concerns.

"I'm aware that the issue has been raised about dog deaths but as I understand you can't necessarily attribute that to the baiting program," Mr Sharp said.

"The aerial baiting is being done according to quite prescribed standards and they're standards about animal safety and handling of poisons and all of those things are quite strict and controlled.

"As I understand it we've gone beyond those standards and we have put in a 500m buffer, so there's a buffer to the (national park's) boundary of 500m."

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails