COVID safe autumn baiting

In a win for biodiversity protection and lambing ewes, more than 660 landholders took part in coordinated wild dog control on the Central Tablelands, from April through to June this year.

“After a summer plagued by bushfire and drought, many native species were particularly vulnerable to wild dog attack,” explained Central Tablelands Local Land Services Senior Biosecurity Officer, Kristy Bennetts.

“We also have a lot of ewes lambing during the autumn period, so the timing was right to limit the number of young dogs on the prowl for new hunting grounds, and to reduce the population of mature dogs during the breeding season.”

Despite COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions, farmers and other concerned landholders stepped up to tackle the wild dog threat by taking part in organised baiting, cooperating with newly implemented Local Land Services COVID safe operational rules.

“The success of the baiting program in protecting both the environment and local livestock, is thanks to the hard work of all of the landholders and private and public land managers that have taken part.” said Ms Bennetts.

Coronavirus added a new level of difficulty to this year’s autumn baiting program, with significant changes required to the way standard procedures were undertaken.

“We’ve had a really positive response from everyone involved with landholders adapting well to the restrictions put in place for their safety,” said Ms Bennetts.

Central Tablelands Local Land Services staff worked with pest management groups to ensure landholders didn’t congregate in bait pick up areas. Meanwhile NSW Police and local Council staff were kept informed on how operations were being conducted.

Paperwork and bait packs were pre-prepared to reduce time spent at bait pick-up points, and hand sanitiser was provided for use by all parties during interactions between Local Land Services staff and landholders.

The autumn baiting program is part of a carefully planned wild dog control strategy designed to protect both livestock and precious native wildlife that have survived through the past summer of bush fire, extreme heat and drought.

An increasing number of wild dog attacks have been reported in the Bathurst area with wild dogs regularly seen in the Bylong, Lue, Hill End, Hargraves and Nullo Mountain areas. Sightings also indicate wild dogs are rapidly repopulating areas affected by bush fire in the Wolgan Valley north of Lithgow.

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