RELATED:Baits 'only part of the answer'
NEW federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has given the Victorian government a green light to apply for the aerial baiting of wild dogs.
Mr Joyce said any application from Victoria should be viewed favourably.
“Wild dogs are a major issue,” he said.
Mr Joyce, who has a farming background, is aware of the impact of wild dogs in Victoria’s high country, western Queensland and the NSW New England region for which he is now the federal representative.
He said they had a significant impact on the sheep industry and were disastrous for native fauna.
Aerial baiting is undertaken in NSW and Western Australia, but the previous federal government had rejected moves by Victoria to introduce it.
It was a Coalition promise at the 2011 Victorian election, but after it came to power, moves to get approval were thwarted.
Then federal environment minister Tony Burke cited a possible impact on quolls as the reason for rejecting the Victorian application early last year.
Mr Joyce said if changes needed to be introduced to control wild dogs, they would be implemented.
“I will, if I can, have any involvement on more effective control of this pest,” he said.
“It is an issue that I have a close association with. A lot of this stuff is done at state level.”
His comments have been welcomed by the member for Benalla, Bill Sykes, and the member for Benambra, Bill Tilley.
“That is fantastic news. It is very encouraging,” Dr Sykes said yesterday.
He said aerial baiting was done extensively in the New England area and Mr Joyce was well aware of its success.
Dr Sykes, the Victorian parliamentary secretary on wild dogs, said the preferred time for aerial baiting was in the autumn.
He said Victorian Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh was preparing to resubmit the government’s application.
Mr Tilley said the indication from Mr Joyce was great news for farmers and from a conservation point of view.
“There is no excuse why we (the government) should not get a wriggle on,” he said.
Mr Tilley has been a long-time advocate for aerial baiting to curb wild dog numbers, particularly in their breeding grounds deep in the bush.
Last year money set aside by the Victorian government for aerial baiting was redirected to a ground baiting program.