22 January, 2006

LETTERS: Tasmania and 1080

The Age (letters)

22 January 2006

Claire Miller's Postcard on wildlife in Tasmania ('Wildlife slaughter devils Tasmania', 15/1) perpetuates pejorative cultural stereotypes.

Significant efforts have been made in Tasmania to find environmentally benign and socially acceptable ways of managing wildlife populations and still achieve a balance with the productive requirements of rural landholders. This is in a context where wildlife populations have been increasing in response to abundant food and water supplies on rural land.

Miller conveniently ignores the fact that on mainland Australia 1080 use far exceeds that in Tasmania.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority has found that total Australian use is about 200 kilograms a year, of which Tasmania uses about 4 per cent.

Miller says "farmers use a bit of 1080" and then lays the issue squarely on the forest industry as the only significant user, claiming that its use increased by two kilograms in 2004-05. The facts are that 1080 use in Tasmania has decreased from more than 15 to just over eight kilograms in the past seven years. Of this, the forest industry used 54 per cent and farmers 46 per cent.

Forestry Tasmania ceased using 1080 in state forests in 2005. Tighter controls from this month will reduce use of 1080 even further.

Hans Drielsma, Forestry Tasmania

Hats off to Claire Miller for her valiant attempt to capture the dimensions of Tasmania's bone-headed contempt for its wildlife.

The most recent advance here has been the State Government's announcement of the outsourcing of 1080 poison permit assessments to private licensees employed by forestry and agriculture organisations, this to speed up what was already a rubber-stamp process.

Elsewhere, the recently created position of "devil facial tumour disease research director" will have as part of its duties work on browser management, such as poisoning to protect tree plantations.

Having long ago sold the rights to the brand "Tasmanian devil" for a pittance to Warner Brothers, the Government appears to feel that the species should be left in the care of market forces.

John Hayward, Weegena, Tasmania

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