NT 1080 Deregulation Simplistic and Dangerous
21 January 2016
Is the Northern Territory cattle industry truly “shackled” by supposedly heavy regulation of 1080 baits (NT Government cuts pastoral industry shackles, 31 December 2015), or is the Government oversimplifying a complex issue by ramping up ineffective methods at great risk to unique and threatened wildlife?
Humane Society International (HSI) is highly concerned about impacts on biodiversity as the Northern Territory Government rolls out a new 1080 Wild Dog Management Program, the overwhelming theme of which is reduced regulation. The relaxation of controls for permits and training is justified by “wild dogs” having an estimated impact on the Northern Territory cattle industry of up to $60m per year, a figure presented without supporting evidence. HSI has written to Deputy Chief Minister Willem Westra van Holthe seeking clarification.
The Northern Territory Government’s decision to provide pastoralists easier access to baits while at the same time eliminating reporting requirements has been made despite a growing body of evidence suggesting that dingo and “wild dog” baiting programs de-stabilise packs and can lead to increased livestock predation by lone animals forced from a pack environment. There is a very real possibility that the move will have the opposite outcome to the intended effect of reducing livestock predation.
“This is a simplistic and ecologically dangerous response to claimed high levels of cattle predation in the Territory, which may even exacerbate the issue. If 1080 baits are to be used as the go-to poison, then at the very least they require close regulation and reporting. One of the assurances often provided is that baits are laid in a way that reduces non-target take, which brings into question the wisdom of celebrating simplified training requirements,” said HSI Senior Program Manager Evan Quartermain.
1080 baits kill not only target species such as “wild dogs”, but a wide range of native wildlife including quolls, birds of prey, and dingoes. Dingoes in particular have been shown to play a highly important role in suppressing invasive predators such as cats and foxes, assisting the conservation of a wide range of native species threatened by their predation. They have also been shown to be financially beneficial for graziers by reducing grazing competition from kangaroos.
Mr Quartermain concluded, “Any assertion that relaxing 1080 controls is a positive move for conservation is absolute rubbish. Yes dingoes and dingo-hybrids prey on native wildlife, however their role in suppressing invasive species such as cats and foxes, which have a far greater detrimental impact on biodiversity, means their presence in the landscape is resoundingly positive for threatened species.”
Plans developed by states and territories such as the 1080 Wild Dog Management Program are not subject to Federal oversight through the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), despite their potential for considerable effect on nationally threatened species. HSI urges the Commonwealth Government to introduce requirements for the biodiversity impacts of such programs to be assessed prior to implementation.