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May 17, 2011

The Victorian Government will intensify efforts to control wild dogs with plans underway to commence aerial baiting in May next year.

Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said aerial baiting would initially begin in an area of eastern Victoria currently experiencing severe wild dog impacts on livestock enterprises.

Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said the Coalition promised before the election it would implement an aerial baiting program in its first term as part of stepping up the effort to further control these pests and assist land holders.

“We are all too aware of the devastating impact wild dogs are having on a number of livestock producers in north-east Victoria and East Gippsland.

“We are acting to address this impact by introducing an aerial baiting program that will complement existing on-ground control strategies. It is also a part of a new approach by this government to tackle this problem,” he said.

Mr Walsh said the program would start in May to give an opportunity to restructure the state’s wild dog committees to allow for greater local input and the development of local area plans.

“Late autumn/ early winter is also the most effective time for aerial baiting, as baits last longer and wild dog movements are at their greatest.”

“The program will initially target about 5,000 hectares of inaccessible land with the aim of reducing wild dog impacts on livestock producers adjacent to the target area.

“The baiting will be conducted on selected areas of public land that are not easily accessible for on-ground deployment of baits or other control techniques.

“We are fully committed to implementing a broader scale aerial baiting program to mitigate the impact of wild dogs on livestock producers across both north east Victoria and East Gippsland.”

Mr Walsh also said the Coalition Government was committed to maintaining an exemption from 24-hourly wild dog trap checks.

“We will continue to provide an exemption from this requirement so wild dog  controllers only have to check traps every 72 hours,” Mr Walsh said.

Commencement of the aerial baiting program is in addition to the Victorian Government’s new fox and wild dog bounty announced in this month’s State Budget.

“The Victorian Government has allocated $4 million over four years to reinstate a fox and wild dog bounty that provides hunters with $50 for each wild dog and $10 for each fox they kill,” Mr Walsh said.

“The new Victorian Government initiatives will operate in conjunction with existing wild dog and fox control methods which include poison baiting, trapping, exclusion fencing, den fumigation and shooting.”

Mr Walsh said further details on the fox and wild dog bounty would be made available in coming months.

Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, said he was pleased the State Government remains committed to implementing aerial baiting as an important control measure and would continue to push the case for a national approach to tackle the wild dog problem.

“Strong market prices for lamb and beef have meant that wild dogs have a bigger impact on the bottom line for local farmers and I know of some farmers in the high country who are contemplating whether to continue farming as a result of the losses caused by wild dogs.

“Implementing an aerial baiting system in Victoria is used successfully in other parts of the country and it is an important step in tackling the problem.

“But I will be continuing to push the case in Canberra for a national approach to control feral animals, particularly wild dogs.”

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