Aerial baiting: Come and get it | PICTURES

IT has been a long time coming, but the fight against marauding wild dogs in Victoria took to the air yesterday.

The first aerial baiting runs were done by helicopter from the Mount Hotham Airport, with a long-time government commitment coming to fruition.

The Agriculture and Food Security Minister, Peter Walsh, yesterday said the fight against the dogs had entered a significant new phase with the aerial baiting on public land.

Baiting in the escarpment country of NSW for many years had been judged an outstanding success.

The helicopter made repeated runs from Hotham into East Gippsland to drop fresh-meat baits in remote areas around Omeo at Angora-Cobungra, Bindi and Wonangatta-Punchen Bedwied.

Baiting will continue today, if the weather is suitable, in the Burrowa and Wabba regions (near Corryong) and Bullhead (south of Tallangatta).

Department of Environment and Primary Industries bio-security manager Lachlan Barnes and wild dog project manager Michael Bretherton prepared the baits and loaded them on the helicopter.

“The government is committed to aerial baiting because we understand that wild dogs take significant financial and emotional tolls on our livestock producers,” Mr Walsh said.

“We are committed to helping farmers fight back to reduce the impact these vicious pests have on young livestock and native fauna.

“Aerial baiting has a key role in Victoria’s integrated approach to wild dog control, complementing other control measures like trapping, ground baiting, shooting and exclusion fencing.”

Mr Walsh said a change of federal government had brought commonsense back to Canberra and allowed the baiting application.

He said his government had provided $1.84 million in its new budget for continued 1080 baiting in remote areas, both aerial and ground baiting activities, over the next four years.

“The start of aerial baiting delivers a key Coalition election commitment,” Mr Walsh said.

He said MPs Bill Sykes, Tim Bull, Bill Tilley and Tim McCurdy had lobbied hard to get better controls for farmers living in their electorates.

Mr Walsh said the sites were chosen for their inaccessibility and remoteness, proximity to private land where dog attacks have been reported and the absence of spot tailed quolls.

Dog controllers have trapped or shot 499 dogs and laid more than 18,000 baits in the past year.