In an effort to eradicate feral goats on an Australian island, a local government has decided to use dingoes that will eventually be killed by an embedded poison capsule, something that has caused concern with animal and environmental activists.
The goats — numbering near 300 — have become a problem on Pelorus Island, off the coast of Queensland, and government officials from Hinchinbrook Shire Council have opted to use four dingoes that are embedded with a poison known as 1080. To date, two dingoes have already been released on the island.
1080 poison, or sodium fluoroacetate, is widely used by the New Zealand government to kill off large populations of invasive predators and control disease. Once the dingoes — which have been desexed — have killed off the goats, they will be hunted and killed. However, should they not be caught within two years, the time-released 1080 capsule will go off, poisoning them.
But some are questioning the decision for several reasons, including cruelty to the goats and dingoes alike.
“By sticking some wild dogs in a situation where those goats will be eaten, partly eaten and then left to die a horrible painful death is the wrong attitude for 2016,” Mark Townend, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (RSPCA) chief executive officer told ABC News in Australia.
The small island is only four square kilometres but has been overrun by goats. The goats continue to decimate local vegetation and have caused damage to the ground.
While other methods, such as shooting the goats from helicopters, have been used elsewhere, this is considered a cheaper alternative. And while some are lauding the government for their effort to eradicate the goats, the method is being called into question.
“It seems the dingo is being treated simply as a pest control unit and not given the respect of a native species which we believe it is,” Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Northern Programme Director Andrew Picone said to ABC.
Others, such as Lyn Watson, the owner of the Dingo Discovery Sanctuary in Victoria, believe that the dingoes will likely hunt smaller prey rather than the goats.
Michael Beatty, a spokesman out of the RSPCA Queensland told The Australian, “While we accept feral animals need to be controlled, we would like to see other avenues exhausted before resorting to this ‘solution’, which could inflict pain and suffering on both goats and dingoes alike.”
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