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TAS Country : January 6th 2011
6 Tasmanian Country Friday, January 7, 2011 Cameras way to determine fox presence BY-CATCH: One bait has enough 1080 to kill an adult eastern quoll, and just a mouthful is enough to kill a juvenile spotted tail or eastern quoll. REGARDING the Fox Eradication Program taskforce and the chance of it poisoning devils and quolls, Robbie Gaffney, acting branch manager, FEP, explained (Tasmanian Country, De- cember 12) that an average adult Tasmanian devil wound need to con- sume 10 buried Foxoff baits over a 2.2 km distance to be killed. One problem is that not all devils are adult. Young devils, recently weaned, or only partially weaned, can weigh less than a kilogram and be presumably killed by a single bait containing 3 mg 1080. One bait has enough 1080 to kill an adult eastern quoll, and just a mouthful is enough to kill a juvenile spotted tail or eastern quoll. Then there is the matter of the variability in animal susceptibility to 1080. The LD50 dose (50 per cent of animals killed) might be 4.2mg/kg for devils, but some animals are more susceptible, and others more resistant. I have been unable to find published data, but probably many animals would be killed at even half the LD50 figure, especially young animals. If the FEP is so confident that Foxoff is not killing devils, then one wonders why the University of Sydney has just applied for a scientific permit to study the danger to both devils and quolls from Foxoff? Shouldn't this question have been resolved years ago? As I understand things, approxi- mately 100,000 poison baits have been laid over the past 10 years and about 10 per cent of these have been dug up by unknown animals with unknown consequences to their health. After 10 years of using buried 1080 baits for foxes in Tasmania, we still have no real idea if any have actually been killed by the bait, let alone how many are present or whether non- target species have been killed. Surely we can't continue in the same way indefinitely without knowing if the program is working or not? If the DNA scat analysis results are correct, then there are at least hun- dreds of foxes spread throughout the state, and the eradication program has been ineffective. If the results are not correct, as appears likely, then there might be no foxes in the state, and a lot of money has been wasted! One obvious thing to try is to improve the detection of foxes by filming them at night. If the fox taskforce cameras are inadequate to provide proper video footage then they might consider bringing in someone with better equipment and more ex- perience. If more of the approximate $4 million fox taskforce annual budget could be diverted to improving detection tech- niques, rather than broad-acre poison- ing with unknown results, then that would arguably be a worthwhile in- vestment. The DNA scat analysis is one such example of this approach. Improved filming techniques would be another. If the buried Foxoff baits are not very palatable to foxes, as the peer reviewed scientific papers tell us, then it might be time to consider using fresh meat. It also seems a bit pointless, to me at least, to spread baits all across the state, just on the off-chance that one might kill a fox occasionally (with 1080 as the poison, no one will know!) Why not just first locate the pests with intensive filming, and then work out how to trap, shoot or poison the occasional one seen (if any are pres- ent)? At least this way we will gather a much-needed database on the abun- dance of devils, quolls and feral cats state wide, and will be able to silence the sceptics if a fox is ever filmed. IVO EDWARDS Maydena YOUR SAY firstname.lastname@example.org Fact remains we see no fox DESPITE all the rhetoric, inquiries and comments from many highly experienced commentators the undisputable, undeniable single fact remains that no foxes have been trapped, shot, recovered from 1080 poisoning campaigns or, more revealing, have not been photographed in Tasmania in the last nine years by the people charged with the eradication of foxes. The Tasmanian and Federal Governments have thrown millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars at this program. There is equipment in the form of sophisticated motion/heat cameras put at every fox hotspot, rifles and scopes many of the world's armies would be proud to own, the best spotlights, the best 4WD vehicles and 4WD bikes money can buy, years and years of different types of detector dogs, outdoor gear, GPS equipment and every type of state of the art detection devices known to man . . .andstillnofox. It is time some serious questions should and must be asked. The precautionary principle just doesn't wash anymore. IAN RiST Wynyard Long-term sustainability is the key In ''Just rotten eggs and lame ducks'' (December 24), John Rich raises con- cerns about Tasmanian Government departments sourcing produce from in- terstate, when there are local producers. Mr Rich states there should be a responsibility to give preference to local suppliers; that there should be a local benefits test in government tender processes. Also, because Tasmania is an island, we often face financial disad- vantage against mainland suppliers; and our scale of operation can be a disad- vantage. These arguments are all logical to a degree; how- ever they do not address the underlying issue --- long-term sustainability. Reality is, primary in- dustries are in the same situation as any other in- dustry sector; that is, in a global market producers must stay competitive to stay in business. Nowadays, economies are truly global. The In- ternet and other IT devel- opments have done away with the isolation theories. Freight around the globe is a matter of everyday business. Tasmania's manufactur- ing base, including pri- mary producers, must overcome the ''maintain the status quo'' logic, or be left behind. No other state or country in the world is interested in maintaining the status quo in Tas- mania. Tasmanians must be prepared to do battle for their share in a wider market than just their own state. True, Tasmania does face certain challenges log- istically that other Aus- trlian states do not, but this will never justify a protec- tionist attitude. Would a Tasmanian pro- ducer turn down a contract from an interstate govern- ment on the basis that other governments have a duty first to their own producers? Innovation feeds on chal- lenges. Innovative manu- facturers are quick to re- spond to changing markets, and develop their business direction accord- ingly. Of course, the Tasman- ian Government does have a very great responsibility towards Tasmanian pro- ducers, but is it not in the form of protectionism for its own sake. While support for local enterprise will always be welcome and valuable, the Government's major res- ponsibility is rather to build the state economy in such a way to assist Tas- manian producers to be economical in their field, on a national basis. Increased population, development of natural re- sources, increased water conservation, better trans- port links, marketing of Tasmania's unique attri- butes, etc. will all increase economies of scale and decrease expenses for local producers. is is not a short-term fix but rather the long-term solution. L. COX Deloraine B een e & e' h n e n e ee h e e - e e e e Gr n r h p prot ct n trog n rom o t t on o , o 'r ng om xtr o r prot ct on or o nc cr m*! 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December 23rd 2010
January 13th 2011