1080 ban puts Blue Mountains wildlife at mercy of foxes

Media Release |

The recent decision by the Blue Mountains City Council to ban the use of the bait 1080 will ensure the area’s native wildlife remains at the mercy of one of Australia’s worst feral predators, the fox.

“We’re calling on the Blue Mountains City Council to reconsider its opposition to the use of 1080 so that it supports the use of the bait to protect native wildlife in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area from one of Australia’s greatest wildlife killers, the fox,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said today.

Over the past year the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has been undertaking the agency’s largest ever 1080 baiting program to help wildlife recover from last year’s devastating mega bushfires.

“The use of 1080 to protect wildlife in the bushfire-ravaged Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area was critical to ensuring surviving native species were not left to the mercy of foxes,” Mr Cox said.

“If the NSW parks service had been unable to use 1080 to reduce fox numbers after last year’s bushfires we would have seen even worse suffering among our native animals as recovering wallaby, bandicoot, bird, frog and lizard populations were hunted down by predatory foxes.

Our review on the use of 1080 in Australia shows that without an effective replacement the overall result of not using 1080 is greater suffering and declines in native species.

“While the Blue Mountains City Council does not use 1080 at present, to rule out its use in the future and to pressure other agencies to ban it would be counter-productive to effective pest management.

“The 1080 ban prevents the council from mounting an effective response to the area’s serious fox threat.

“The new policy will have long-term environmental consequences and should have been publicly floated before it was finalised.”

The Invasive Species Council report 1080: A Weighty Ethical Issue, published last year, shows that while available evidence and assessments by welfare experts indicate 1080 likely causes suffering and distress in poisoned animals, its use for conservation can be well justified.

For fox control, 1080 remains the safest, most effective and most humane option currently available.

“The red fox is one of this country’s worst pest animals and is responsible for the extinction of eight native mammals in Australia, and is an ongoing threat to the survival of many more,” Mr Cox said.

“Foxes predate on native mammals, ground-nesting birds, lizards and other species and are present in significant numbers in the Blue Mountains area.”

The Blue Mountains City Council has supported a Greater Sydney Local Land Services program to make available cage traps on private land in the Blue Mountains area. This is a useful supplementary control measure, but cage trapping on its own has limited effectiveness in suppressing fox numbers.

The Invasive Species Council supports research into more humane options to 1080 and until an alternative is available opposes a ban on its use.

Blue Mountains City Council motion on use of 1080

The motion introduced by the mayor without public consultation and passed at a Blue Mountains City Council meeting on 23 February 2021 states:

  1. That the Council acknowledges the need to strategically control feral animal populations to mitigate the negative impacts on wildlife, the environment, and local agriculture;
  2. That the Council, notes the organisation presently does not use 1080 poison as part of control techniques, bans the use of 1080 poison within its Council operations, and encourages other agencies to do the same;
  3. That the Council, in its development of its Vertebrate Pest Management Plan as an outcome of the Local Strategic Planning Statement (Action 1.9), has as a critical consideration animal ethics and humaneness in the selection of appropriate control techniques; and
  4. That the Council notes the Vertebrate Pest Management Plan will be informed by the Mayoral Wildlife Reference Group’s recommendations and developed in consultation with the community, interested stakeholders, and partner agencies, including Greater Sydney Local Land Service and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Accessible from: https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/council-meetings/2021-business-papers-minutes

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