May 28, 2010
The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has urged the Federal Government to consider adopting a wild dog and fox control program similar to the one proposed by the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition earlier this month, as a way of combating the problem nationwide.
If elected to government in November this year the Victorian Coalition will implement a four-year $4 million program under which all licensed shooters, including rural landholders, will be eligible for a $50 bounty for every wild dog and $10 bounty for every fox killed.
State Candidate for Gippsland East Tim Bull has already thrown his full support behind the Victorian Coalition’s proposal to reduce wild dog and fox numbers across the region.
Mr Chester said he is looking forward to working with Mr Bull as part of a strong team to support practical and direct environmental action Gippsland.
In Canberra this week, he told Federal Parliament that wild dogs have been estimated to cost the Australian agriculture industry $66 million per year. In addition, reports indicate foxes are responsible for annual costs of $228 million to the environment and agriculture industry combined.
However, Mr Chester said he is equally as concerned for the social welfare of local primary producers who face a constant uphill battle against wild dogs and foxes.
“The impact of foxes and wild dogs on the Australian economy cannot be overestimated. The economic costs can be measured. The environmental impacts of their feasting on our native fauna are very difficult to measure. But the social impacts are ones that concern me greatly,” Mr Chester told Parliament.
“The impact on mental health and the stress on families from our landholders going out into the paddocks in the morning and not knowing what is going to confront them.
“It is really beyond the capacity of our farmers to deal with this kind of stress on an almost daily basis when wild dogs are about.”
Mr Chester said the Victorian Coalition bounty control program deserves the attention of the Federal Government with the need for a national approach as wild dogs become an increasing problem across other states.
“I would argue, to some extent at least, that commercial harvesting in terms of putting a value on the scalps of wild dogs and foxes is one way of putting some pressure on the population. It would in fact be a form of commercial harvesting of these species,” Mr Chester said.
“I urge the Federal Government to at least consider the Victorian Opposition’s views in this matter…and look at the merits of perhaps a national bounty on top of the existing baiting, fencing and other control measures which are in place in many states across the nation.”
“I believe this is a practical measure which would give community groups, land owners and registered shooting organisations a responsible role in practical land management.”