Since the 1970s the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has provided councils and landholders a no-cost service of 1080 concentrates for pest and invasive species control. AP Photo: Robert F. Bukaty
Since the 1970s the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has provided councils and landholders a no-cost service of 1080 concentrates for pest and invasive species control. AP Photo: Robert F. Bukaty

‘Best defence’ against pests lost as stocks runs dry

A CRUCIAL and deadly weapon in local councils’ strategy to contain pests could be taken out of their arsenal as the state’s stockpile of 1080 poison dries up.

Since the 1970s the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has provided councils and landholders with 1080 concentrate free of charge, a department spokesman said.

After nearly half a century, the state-owned reserves have been almost depleted, with the poison to run out by mid 2020.

“Once the stockpile is exhausted, 1080 concentrate will only be available from commercial 1080 providers,” he said.

For councils, including Mackay and Whitsunday regional councils, the loss of the free poison supply would be a bitter pill.

Whitsunday Regional Council said the decision would wipe out $1200-1500 from the council’s budget.

Manager Natural Resources Management Scott Hardy said each year pest control operations used between five and 10 litres of the liquid poison to control wild dogs and feral pigs.

“There will also be an additional cost to train new staff to gain accreditation to use the poison,” Mr Hardy said.

Mackay Regional Council has appealed for DAF to continue the free poisons supply.
Mackay Regional Council has appealed for DAF to continue the free poisons supply.

Mackay Regional Council has appealed for DAF to continue the free poison supply.

In the war against invasive species, community and client services director Bridget Mather said, “1080 concentrate is one of the best defences available”.

Wild dogs prey on livestock, native and threatened animals and domestic pets, while feral pigs spread weeds, degrade soil and water, damage crops and livestock and carry disease,” she said.

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“If the provision of 1080 were to cease, it would increase risk to locals and council would need to re-evaluate how it funded such programs,” she said.

The councils did not say if the new costs of 1080 concentrate would be passed onto ratepayers.

Since October, DAF has been consulting with councils to develop their future 1080 supply strategy.

The department spokesman said the poison was initially bought as a contingency plan in the event an emergency exotic disease outbreak.

But, an agreement with other states has developed a new approach to pest management, he said, with a focus on prevention rather than on large scale 1080 baiting programs.

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