It has been two weeks since news of 1080 baiting in the Central Highlands caused outrage in the community. But the battle against the “barbaric“ control method continues for wildlife advocates.
The issue was first voiced by passionate fly fishing guide Ken Orr, after he discovered the deadly poison had been laid at a property near Penstock Lagoon.
Now he is planning to lobby the government by launching a petition online this week.
“I will be pushing for an inquiry into why we are still using this when we have a supposed clean green image, as was projected the other night by the beautiful show by David Attenborough,” he said.
“I am honestly considering sending Attenborough the information that I have on what the government is doing with this 1080.”
The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment defended the baiting, stating it was “strictly controlled under a code of conduct”, but it’s not the first time the controversial method has come under fire.
A plan by the former Labor government to ban the poison was not upheld by the Liberals in 2014.
The decision to continue using the bait was described as a “backwards step for animals” by RSPCA Tasmania. Chief Executive and veterinarian Dr Andrew Byrne said the society’s view on the subject had not changed since then.
“We are not happy with that method of culling,” Dr Byrne said.
“It is a horrific way for an animal to die. As an animal welfare body and as a veterinarian I do not support the use of 1080.
“There are more humane methods being researched and trialed and we support the continued research into lethal trapping, and fertility control. The use of cage trapping is also preferred method of control, with some improvements required around remote sensing and lure usage.”
Greens environment spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff said the decision to not ban 1080 back in 2014 was a failure to “properly fund education around alternatives and monitor how it’s used”.
“Tasmanians are again hearing the ‘shoot ‘em or poison ‘em’ debate about how to manage numbers of native animals eating pasture,” she said.
“It’s a sad return to the old simplistic and cruel fix.”
For the state’s farmers, 1080 has become a “last resort” as the population of pest animals continues to rise.
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association president Wayne Johnston said the agricultural industry was “under a lot of pressure” and “losing thousands of dollars of product to browsing animals”.
“While we don’t necessarily like to use poison, it is a way to get rid of the numbers pretty quickly,” he said.
“It is basically a last resort of landowners.
“We have to show we have fenced the property and have been shooting for months prior.”
The poison has been used in Tasmania since 1952. According to the DPIPWE website, 1080 is the “most effective vertebrate pest poison currently available”, but “poisoning of non-target animals may occur”.
Those animals included dogs and cats, which were described as being “highly susceptible”.
Rats, wombats and humans were said to be “less susceptible”, while quolls, Tasmanian devils and “nearly all birds” have a “high tolerance”.