Experts say 1,080 bait campaigns are an Australian environmental disaster
The long, slow post-fire recovery of Kosciuszko National Park may be underway, but the NSW government actions to contain wild dog populations to save native wildlife recovery is to bait the hand that feeds it.
So say researchers who, for at least two decades, have studied dingo populations across Australia.
Snowy Mountains Wilderness Photographer Ian Brown said the story had been so overwhelming for the dingoes that there was no safe place for them.
“The lingering ramifications of inaccurate beliefs, combined with perpetuated negative intergenerational images of the dingo as a cowardly and savage killer of cash crops, resulted in a biased public perception that ensured a lack of interest in their conservation as than single product. native species, ”he said.
Ian said this leaves the dingo in a precarious gray area, where even in the perceived safety of national and state parks, they will die from 1,080 poisoned bait intended for foxes and wild dogs.
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Dingo Conservation Solutions NENSW President Zac Forster said if there was such a thing as a wild domestic dog, they could survive for generations on their own, living independently of humans.
“This is not the reality, so the term ‘wild dog’ is a misrepresentation of what the domestic dog is actually capable of,” he said.
“If you look anywhere in the world, there are no populations of domestic dogs living in the wild apart from humans.
“Even a hunting dog lost in the bush might have the ability – thanks to his hunting propensities – to survive for his generation until his death, but people have this romantic idea that a dog will jump the fence with it. her partner, go live in the bush, have puppies and stay outside – that just doesn’t happen.
Zac said the domestic dog line lacks the inherent survival instincts needed to form persistent populations in the bush.
“They can survive a generation, but when it comes to raising puppies they have to dig a den, then educate the puppies on what to avoid and what to exploit, how to survive other dingoes, snakes, eagles. wedge-tailed and human, ”he said. Explain.
“Female dingoes have had tens of thousands of years of evolution to imbibe this knowledge and instincts for living and procreating in nature.”
A recent UNSW study found virtually no wild dogs across the continent and very little evidence of crossbreeds between dingoes (Canis dingo) and domestic dogs (Canis familiaris), calling into question the widely used term ” wild dog “.
Study co-author, UNSW conservation biologist Dr Kylie Cairns, said it was important for governments, wildlife managers and agricultural industry groups to use the name “dingo” to describe these wild canids because that is what they are.
“And we need to discuss whether killing a native animal – which has been shown to be beneficial to the ecosystem – is the best way to restore the ecosystem,” she said.
Researchers mention Yellowstone National Park in the United States and what has been achieved there since 14 Canadian gray wolves were reintroduced in 1995 – 70 years after the species was eradicated.
Zac said their disappearance has disrupted food webs and ecological balance, allowing populations of their natural prey – elk – to multiply and consume increasing amounts of the natural habitat.
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When the wolves were brought back to the park, they not only quickly reduced the number of elk, but they also changed their behaviors. Herbivores began to avoid valleys and gorges where they were easily hunted by predators. As a result, these areas began to regenerate and species such as birds, beavers, mice, and bears returned.
Vegetation has thrived again along the riverbanks and erosion has diminished considerably. The stabilization of the banks has indeed changed the course of rivers and streams. The reintroduction of a small population of wolves has completely transformed the landscape of the park.
Zac said the loss of Australia’s largest land predator was no different, citing Sturt National Park as a crucial empirical study.
“On one side of the dingo fence, the landscape – where there are no dingoes – is more arid, because there are more roos that overgraz the shrubs and grasses, destabilizing the topsoil which is then washed away, depleting the health of the soil. This overgrazing of flora then allows foxes and feral cats to prey on smaller native species that are unprotected because their predator cover has been eaten by the roos.
“On the other side, where dingoes exist, the landscape is in ecological balance because there are fewer roos and the dingoes regulate the number of wild species.
He joins Ian Brown in saying that the destruction of dingo populations in areas affected by fire is disturbing the balance of the entire ecosystem.
“Last year the government of New South Wales carried out the largest aerial bait campaign ever in the southern hemisphere, with a million poisoned baits dropped on 40,000 km of trails for the wildlife in what was supposed to be a salvage program to save native species affected by fire, ”he said. .
“If you start that 1080 bait indiscriminately, you get the nuts out. Immediately, cats and wild foxes settle down to fill the ecological niche.
“To me, 1,080 bait campaigns are one of the biggest environmental disasters in the history of this country, the effects of which are largely unknown at this point.”