The Carpenter Government will spend an additional $250,000 on producing new poisonous baits to control the European fox - a devastating predator on native wildlife.
Environment Minister Mark McGowan made the announcement while visiting Albany today and said the use of the baits in the South Coast region had played a significant role in the conservation of the critically endangered Gilbert's potoroo.
Mr McGowan said the Department of Environment and Conservation’s (DEC) Western Shield Program had been very successful in controlling foxes around the State, and allowed for the reintroduction of endangered species in certain areas.
Albany MLA Peter Watson said the program had been enormously beneficial to the biodiversity of the Albany region, and had allowed for the establishment of a small colony of the Gilbert’s potoroo at Bald Island.
“The species’ total population consists of less than 40 animals worldwide, which only exist at Mt Gardner in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve on mainland WA,” Mr Watson said.
“Any extension of this program is fantastic news for the local environment, tourism, and the general regional economy.”
Mr McGowan said the dried meat baits contained the toxin 1080, to which native wildlife have a high tolerance, but is deadly to introduced predators.
The poison is the same as that occurring in native plants commonly called poison peas. Native wildlife have developed a tolerance to the poison while introduced predators have not.
“The new salami sausage shaped baits, called probaits, have been researched and produced at the DEC’s Harvey bait factory, which produces about 40 per cent of the 750,000 dried meat baits used by the DEC each year,” the Minister said.
“This funding will enable the Harvey facility to be structurally upgraded to increase production capacity for the new sausage bait, ensuring that the baits needed for this important wildlife program can be produced for the long-term.
“The sausage bait will also generate greater savings in the future, as it is equally as effective as the current dried meat bait and will reduce the cost from about 95 cents to 65 cents per bait.
“It is envisaged that it will take approximately eight months to complete the structural changes and obtain the necessary equipment to increase production capacity at the Harvey plant.”
Mr McGowan said the use of meat baits to control foxes on conservation lands had been an amazing success story for the conservation of WA’s native wildlife.
“Since ‘Western Shield’ began 10 years ago, we have seen an increase in the number of animals such as tammars, quenda, and chuditch in areas which have been baited for foxes,” he said.
“DEC has just begun its quarterly aerial baiting schedule that will continue through until the end of July. This involves dropping baits from the air on conservation lands throughout the State from as far north as Karratha to the south coast near Esperance.”
Minister's office: (08) 9222 9111