Tourists venturing to ‘wander out yonder’ with their dogs are urged to keep a close eye on their pets and consider putting them on a lead, muzzling or simply do not take them travelling to prevent being poisoned by 1080 baits.
1080 baits are used extensively by farmers and pastoralists throughout Western Australia to control pests, like wild dogs, foxes, feral cats, pigs and rabbits, which threaten livestock and business viability.
The control measure is also used by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ Parks and Wildlife Service to protect native species on the land it manages, which is why the department does not permit dogs in national parks and other conservation areas.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) regional biosecurity coordinator, Lindsay Strange, said while the use of 1080 baits was strictly regulated, pet owners needed to take responsibility for the safety of their animals.
Mr Strange said there were some simple steps pet owners should follow to protect their animals from the risk of poisoning from 1080, for which there is no antidote.
“It is advisable to check with the landholder to see if baiting has been undertaken on the property before letting dogs roam free,” he said.
“While landholders are required to erect signs to warn of baiting as part of a 1080 baiting permit, WA’s landscape is vast and travellers may not always see them.
“It is prudent to avoid areas suitable for baiting, like watercourses, tracks, fence lines, rock piles and posts and to keep pets on a lead or muzzle them to prevent them from coming into contact with a bait.
“The safest strategy of all is for travellers to leave their pets behind in the care of others or in a kennel.”
DPIRD recently updated its ‘1080 baiting: a must for pest control but a risk to domestic pets’ flier, which is being distributed to tourist hotspots – particularly in the north, where tourist numbers have surged.
“There has been an influx of tourists in the north, as a result of the border restrictions, so there may be people travelling in the pastoral region who may not be aware of the risk of dogs being poisoned from 1080 baits,” Mr Strange said.
1080 is a naturally occurring toxin (sodium fluoroacetate) found in many Australian plants.
Most native animals have a high degree of tolerance to 1080, while most domestic animals are very sensitive.
Baiting is typically undertaken in spring, which elevates the risk to domestic animals, although it can occur year round – particularly as baits can be viable for months.
“1080 is an important tool used by landholders as part of an integrated pest management strategy to protect their livestock, as well as to help preserve our State’s unique flora and fauna from death and injury from pest animals, such as wild dogs,” Mr Strange said.
If poisoning is suspected, seek immediate medical attention or veterinary assistance or contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.
Jodie Thomson/Megan Broad, media liaison
+61 (0)8 9368 3937