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Beyond the Bale : September 2018
ON FARM 46 “S heep are happier and lambing percentages are up due to wild dog control.” Such was the generally positive feedback from woolgrowers involved in this year’s aerial baiting program in South Australia, which strongly reinforced the value of the investment. “The program is run efficiently so as to be of maximum benefit to the landholder, with minimum workload or business interruption,” continued another woolgrower. “We would not be able to bait the difficult terrain covered by aerial baiting as thoroughly. This service is greatly appreciated.” The aerial baiting was undertaken for eight days during April, following on from successfully-run programs in previous years. Landholders from 96 wild dog- affected properties participated in this year’s program. The exercise was principally led by Natural Resources SA Arid Lands with support by Biosecurity SA. Funding support also came from AWI and the SA Sheep Industry Advisory Group. The aerial baiting complemented the concurrent autumn ‘Biteback’ wild dog ground baiting program run in South Australia, with many properties participating in both programs. COORDINATED EFFORT An important part of the program is that it links sheep producers and other landholders in a coordinated effort to counteract the wild dog problem. “It feels like we are doing something for the issue, being pro-active and taking action,” commented a producer in the program’s feedback survey. “We’re finding a solution for the problem rather than just wallowing over the damage being caused.” The baits were dropped from a Cessna 210 aircraft along a route of more than 10,000km, with baits generally laid at a rate of five baits per km. It concentrated on inaccessible areas, such as rugged ranges. The baits were dropped along a similar flight path to the previous year. The total bait production for the program was about 52,000 baits, although about 2,000 were not used in the aerial baiting and were subsequently allocated to ground baiting. “Funding support has been greatly appreciated. It has enabled wide scale programs to be established and run for a length of time. Continued support would enable these benefits to be further increased.” Woolgrower involved in the aerial baiting program. To reduce the risk and difficulty of using casual labour for the cutting of fresh meat baits, it was decided to purchase (kangaroo) meat already cut into 150g portions by a meat supplier. However, as much as a third of the baits were cut above the 150g, so some additional cutting was required prior to the injection of 1080. As in previous years, the navigation system ensured that baits were dropped accurately along established flight paths and that appropriate ‘no bait’ buffer zones were maintained, for example around homesteads, outstations, yards and waters. The aerial baiting operations went to plan with no interruptions and the aerial contractor, Wrights Air, performed very well. IMPROVING FARMERS’ WELLBEING The SA Wild Dog Aerial Baiting Coordinator, Bill McIntosh, said most respondents to the feedback survey found the aerial baiting a very useful addition to their normal ground baiting operations. “Woolgrowers see the baiting program as a positive factor in their decision-making regarding either consolidating or increasing their commitment to flock numbers or wool production,” Bill said. They generally indicated that aerial baiting helped with a sense of wellbeing in the face of dog predation on their flocks, with one producer commenting, “I have peace of mind knowing baits are in areas I am unable to get to,” and another saying, “We feel better knowing there are some control measures in place; it benefits our business, environment and peace of mind.” “Overall, the feedback survey provided a positive response and showed that the program is, almost without exception, highly valued and appreciated on the part of woolgrowers,” Bill added. AERIAL BAITING CONTINUES TO RECEIVE WOOLGROWER SUPPORT An aerial wild dog baiting program, part funded by AWI, was once again conducted this year in the pastoral sheep zone south of the dog fence in northern South Australia, complementing existing ground baiting to target wild dogs threatening sheep production. Preparing to load baits onto the plane.
In the Shops - September 2018