Fox Baiting






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Foxes are an introduced species and have caused large scale destruction of native fauna. The Department of the Environment Conservation (DEC) has introduced a campaign of baiting large areas of the state with 1080, which is also lethal to domestic cats and dogs. Be aware that areas you may visit may contain these baits and avoid taking your dog there. All baited areas are supposed to be signposted BUT some foolish people use 1080 illegally and birds can move the baits about, so be careful when you take your pets into the bush.

Baits can remain toxic in dry areas for up to 1 year and there is the risk of secondary poisoning to animals that scavenge.

1080 is a poison that occurs naturally in many plants in W.A. and native species have SOME immunity to its effects. Introduced species have no tolerance for it and die rapidly after ingesting only a small amount.

Early settlers had difficulty explaining the sudden death of numbers of stock. Disease was suspected as the pea plants that were really responsible for the deaths were not suspected. The plants (legumes) were actually thought of as a good food source for stock and were initially sought out be shepherds. It was noted that native animals and birds consumed parts of these plants with no ill effects. It probably should have been noticed that dogs that ate pigeons after the birds fed of seeds from the pea plants died but for some reason no-one managed to 'connect the dots.'

The settlers eventually located the source of the poison and did as much as they could to mitigate stock losses. It was not until 1964 that the poison was formally identified.

1080 or sodium monofluoroacetate, is chemically similar to vinegar but the poison acts by fooling the body into trying to use it as an energy source. The 1080 cannot be used at all by cells and it prevents cells from utilising ordinary foodstuffs. This is invariably fatal in animals that have not built up resistance.

Plant eating animals usually die from cardiac failure but carnivores usually suffer convulsions before death and animal rights groups regard it as a particularly inhumane way to kill. As 1080 is used to control some herbivore species (notably possums) it is quite possible for pet dogs to become poisoned by eating part of the dead possum.

The following description of the effects of 1080 is given on the animal rights website

"restlessness; increased hyperexcitability; incontinence or diarrhea; excessive salivation; abrupt bouts of vocalization; and finally sudden bursts of violent activity. All affected animals then fall to the ground in teranic seizure, with hind limbs or all four limbs and sometimes the tail extended rigidly from their arched bodies. At other times the front feet are clasped together, clenched or used to scratch frantically at the cage walls. This tonic phase is then followed by a clonic phase in which the animals lie and kick or 'paddle' with the front legs and sometimes squeal, crawl around and bite at objects. During this phase the tongue and penis may be extruded, their eyes rolled back so that only the whites show and the teeth ground together. Breathing is rapid but laboured, with some animals partly choking on their saliva. Finally such individuals begin to relax, breathing more slowly and shallowly and lying quietly with the hind legs still extended but apparently semiparalysed"

An official government website describes the effects as :

"Monofluoroacetate is converted in poisoned animals to fluorocitrate, which inhibits the tricarboxylic acid cycle (Krebs Cycle) resulting in energy deprivation and death. The heart, lungs and brain appear to be the main target organs with death resulting from breathing difficulties and heart failure. It is not selective and can be lethal to all mammals and other animals that eat 1080 baits."

"Does the poisoned possum suffer?

"The time between the possum eating 1080 and the appearance of symptoms of poisoning is between 0.5 and 3 hours. Some possums eat too little 1080 to kill them, and will show only mild symptoms. They will excrete the poison and recover in 1-4 days. Possums that eat a lethal amount of 1080 usually die of respiratory failure within 6-18 hours."

You will note that the question asked in the title IS NOT ANSWERED in the text. The original page we sourced this quote from has changed or been deleted.

The only suggestion we have on saving a dog that has eaten a bait or dead wild animal, is to force it to drink lots of very salty water as soon as possible to induce vomiting. There is no guarantee this will work but it may be the only hope.

Better still get muzzles for your dogs and make sure they wear them when you are out in the bush. We have met far too many people who have lost their pets to 1080.

Authorities that currently allow animals to be killed by 1080 state that there is no effective way of measuring animal suffering. This is complete nonsense and is nothing but a 'cop-out'. In 21st century Australia it should be unacceptable to cause such unnecessary pain and suffering.

1080 is now BANNED in many countries because the concerns about the suffering it causes. It is still in widespread use in Australia. Using 1080 is a lazy method of animal control and pressure should be placed on relevant authorities to develop better more humane methods of population control.

In 2007, the CALM publication Landscope (Vol 22 No. 4. Winter pp. 41), admitted that native animals such as the chuditch and phascogale are 'at risk' from 1080 baiting.

While it is vital to control foxes, feral cats and other introduced species to assist in the conservation of native species, we do not believe that in this case, the means justify the ends.

A new and extremely provocative move by the government is to license private landowners to use 1080 poison. We have little doubt that more pets will be killed and more animals will suffer needlessly painful deaths.

As discussion of this matter seems to make beurocrats feel somewhat uncomfortable, they regularly move webpages dealing with the issue. Links below to government websites may be broken as a result.

Further reading

The slow death of 1080 bait
Code of practice for the safe use and management of 1080.
Bait and poison directory for vertebrate pests in Western Australia
Guide to the safe use of 1080 poison
Western Australian Dingo Association
The World League for Protection of Animals




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