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TAS Country : September 2nd 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010 Tasmanian Country 21 Opinion Let the science prevail on 1080 SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE: Mick and Helen Statham are 1080 experts. CHEWS theFAT David Byard THE Independent Farmers Group convened a meeting at Bridport late last month to examine the recently concluded $4 million Alternatives to 1080 program. Mick and Helen Statham, who have probably forgotten more than most people know about 1080, gave a detailed talk that looked at what alternatives may be of some use. It became clear that 1080 was probably the best of the tools available for use on possums and wallabies. The Stathams have had a long involvement with browsing animal control and 1080. They co- authored the Alternatives to 1080 Report, along with John Dawson. TFGA chief Jan Davis also attended the meeting and spoke about the difficulty the organisation had in dealing with complex policy and getting the correct message out to the community. She also made it clear that the TFGA's policy was to support 1080 until an alternative was found. Mick Statham gave a brilliant overview and Helen chimed in to clarify some points. They made it very apparent that there is no clear alternative to 1080. They said there was no chance of getting some sort of biological control and, if there were, people would not accept it. Feratox has a place in rough country and may be used along with fencing and shooting. Fencing and shooting were also discussed in great detail. Fencing is expensive and there is constant costly maintenance required. It also has to be remembered that in some areas it is impossible to fence. Using thermal imaging cameras, Rufus wal- labies were photographed digging underneath fences, contradicting the popular view that wom- bats do the digging. At one site a thermal camera was set up above a hole underneath a fence, and 300 wallabies were logged coming through that hole in one night. That is the pasture-devouring equivalent of 60 sheep. It was discussed that in many areas once the animals were fenced out they faced death by starvation and stress. Shooting evidence shows shooters must be expert marksmen and good hunters. It was shown that on many occasions even though high numbers were being shot, it was not really having an impact on the numbers predating on the pasture. The meeting was told that 1080 was one of the sharpest --- and one of the most effective --- tools in a farmer's armoury. Before writing this column, I read a brilliant article by Greg Morris, a King Island resident who talked about how an out-of-control population of wallabies and possums could affect a lot more than pasture. The message is loud and clear, but people are not listening. Tasmania has between 10 and 20 million wallabies. What can't be disputed is that the wallaby population is out of control and is on the increase, and wreaking huge financial and en- vironmental damage. Tasmania has 1.7 million sheep and 700,000 cattle, and perhaps 20 million wallabies and possums. Farmers are feeding many of them. According to TFGA president David Gatenby, the average pasture loss to browsing pests in northern Tasmania is 65 per cent. At this rate Tasmania could achieve a massive increase in production if wallabies and possums were controlled. With no natural predators, it can be assumed that wallaby and possum populations will continue to grow at an alarming rate. It was also pointed out at the forum that wallabies are great breeders and will only breed when food is plentiful. Of course, with the advent of nutritional rye grass and clovers the wallabies have found a great source of protein and are breeding up accordingly. This is having a huge impact on farms, especially those that have borders with plantations and Crown land. Grass and clovers take large amounts of money to establish to a good pasture. In a lot of places the crops have been an abject failure when confronted with wallabies that can't be moved out to let the pasture establish. Then, if it does get established, it cannot be spelled because of the continuous grazing pressure. It was also pointed out that if a farmer lets his animals stray on to Crown land, he immediately has to move those stock back on to his own property. But when wallabies feed on the farmer's pasture and are moved back to the Crown land for shelter, this is a different story. There were many discussion points for the evening, including how people owning properties adjoining Crown land cannot get any help with fencing costs. It was felt that the Crown should have to pay half the cost of the fence to keep the Crown's wildlife in its own boundaries. Another suggestion was that the Government should look at letting far- mers clear a tree width from the boundary to protect a wallaby fence from fire and fallen trees. The forum heard that the rules and costs of 1080 must be relaxed, with a suggestion that once a farmer is assessed that assessment should stand in place for three years. Farmers were also frustrated at the Govern- ment for not releasing the Alternatives to 1080 Report, and want it released now. But what was clear was that those present were totally frustrated by the whole process, and were feeling let down and neglected. I have been informed that the Greens' Kim Booth is preparing a motion to Parliament that would ban 1080 altogether in this state. If this is true it would have to be the biggest display of hypocrisy I have seen. I am surprised that Mr Booth, who prides himself on due process, could come to a conclusion to ban 1080 before he has read the report. It appears to most that farmers should be trying to educate people on 1080. It is clear that there is a lot of misinformation, and a huge lack of understanding on the economic, environmental and humane issues of 1080. Many people believe that devils, crows and eagles die of secondary poisoning, but this is simply rubbish. Our native species seem very resistant to secondary poisoning. In fact, there is a correlation in the increase in feral cat numbers since 1080 has been wound back. This alone needs to be researched, because we all know the incredible damage feral cats are doing to our native wildlife. If and when a motion comes before Parliament to ban 1080, politicians should be lobbied and educated so they can make a decision based on science and evidence, not on some ideological whim. Fine wool posts strong gains WOOL REPORT Eric Hutchinson SALES resumed in Mel- bourne, Fremantle and Newcastle for the first time this season. Fine wool continued the trend of the past month, post- ing strong gains. Some of the better types out of the northern markets are up to 150 cents dearer for sound spinners' types. Italian interests were particu- larly active. This will be most encourag- ing for Tasmanian fine wool growers who really depend on this competition in the next few months as their wool comes onto the market. Generally a better tone also in the medium mi- cron types and this may in part be due to extra demand from China coming into Australian sale rooms with the restriction on exports of raw wool from South Africa presently due to a Rift Valley Fever outbreak. Action stations SEVERAL resolutions were passed and I shall, on behalf of the Independent Farmers Group, write to the relevant ministers and report back with their answers. The resolutions were: Make 1080 available until an alternative is found. Alternatives to 1080 Report to be released immediately, even as a draft, for comments and consultation. Relax permit rules and reduce the cost of 1080 to farmers. Employ an economist to assess how much browsing animals cost the farming sector. Insurance companies may be approached to find the costs of road-kill damage. Where farms adjoin Crown land, the Government should contribute to fencing costs. When fencing Crown land, farmers should be able to maintain a fire break. What has to be remembered is that if wallabies and possums continue to breed out of control, they are going to STL1105776 Order at www.aaatags.com or Ph: 0419 608 570 Lowest cost NLIS approved sheep ear tags direct from the manufacturer to you! RGM/GRT34910 www.greenham.com.au On behalf of Greenham Tasmania Register now for a free MSA workshop 10am Thursday, September 16 2010 at Winnaleah Football Club. • Analysis of Greeenham Tasmania's compliance to MSA • Understand MSA feedback • Identify compliance issues • Identify performance indicators • Benchmark your results To register your interest please contact Graeme Pretty 0418 505 347 or the plant 03 6452 2704. MSA feedback: The next step
August 26th 2010
September 9th 2010