PRESS RELEASE: Wildlife Cull Could Spell Extinction for Bushfire Survivors

Published by Alex Vince on

Quoll

Sydney, February 17: Plans released by the NSW Government to launch the State’s biggest unwanted wildlife cull have outraged Australians, many of whom are calling on authorities to issue a moratorium all baiting in bushfire-impacted areas and an urgent stop to the drop of up to 1 million 1080-laced baits.

Amidst the worst bushfire season in living memory, a recovery plan published by the NSW Government’s Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has outlined approaches it will take over the next 12 months to protect survivors in the aftermath. It includes liberal use of lethal control programs in a bid to keep native species safe. Those plans include the dropping of up to 1 million 1080-laced baits.

“To say that we are outraged is a significant understatement. The last thing a fragile ecosystem like ours needs right now is to be inundated with such a heavy dose of such a dangerous and indiscriminate chemical. There is little doubt that starving animals will find and eat these baits. It’s happened in the past and it will happen again. We don’t believe that many Australians would be willing to accept their deaths as collateral, even if it’s sold as killing-as-conservation”.

Alex Vince, co-founder and campaign co-ordinator with the Coalition.

1080 has been shown to have disastrous impacts on native Australian and introduced animals alike. Of particular concern are carnivorous marsupials, especially starving survivors of the fires. Without reliable access to resources, some will inevitably “take the bait” intended for target species, like the red fox or the dingo. During other significant bushfire events, some species have bounced back to post-fire population levels that even exceed those before. These, however, did not have to contend with such extreme applications of an indiscriminately deadly poison.

Wildlife and Conservation Bushfire Recovery Plan
The 2020 NSW Wildlife and Conservation Bushfire Recovery Plan

“Australia has been liberally dropping 1080 baits across the country for over six decades. During that time, it hasn’t achieved any of its goals. The only accomplishment it can claim is to have left a shameful trail of dead and dying animals in its wake. Let’s be clear: we do not take issue with protecting vulnerable animals, especially in the aftermath of events like these bushfires. But we cannot sit on our hands and watch as our Government endangers the welfare of many more simply so they can adopt the easiest answer”.

To date, no reliable account of the numbers of animals present in bushfire-impacted areas exists. This includes the absence of any studies assessing the current presence of predators in those areas. Yet, Australian studies have explicitly explained that 1080 baiting programs directly correlate with local extinctions of native species. Advice from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee agreed, warns that aerial 1080 baiting programs can be considered the primary cause of local Tiger Quoll extinctions, especially in circumstances where populations are already fragmented. As the Quoll is cited in the Recovery Plan as a threatened native species with known habitat in fire affected areas, the decision to drop up to 1 million 1080-laced baits unacceptably places survivors of the fires at enormous risk.

1080-laced baits have already begun to be dropped over vast areas of NSW unlike ever before.

We believe bushfire survivors deserve better. Australians deserve to be proud of where their money goes and how our elected leaders choose to use it. At the moment, we’re incredibly ashamed of the NSW Government who are so needlessly putting so many innocent bushfire survivors in 1080’s chemical crosshairs”.

The Coalition has called upon the NSW Government and the Minister Matt Kean to urgently stop the drop. A petition circulated by the Coalition currently has close to 5,000 signatures.