PETA recognises the need to control wild, or feral, dog populations in Australia (‘Wallaby deaths around Cape Byron prompt dog baiting’, 5 May).
We cannot, however, support the use by the NPWS of 1080 baits.
1080 is a notoriously cruel poison and indiscriminate killer which causes disorientation, diarrhoea, vomiting, convulsions, and slow agonising deaths which can take more than 24 hours.
Affected animals may be consumed by birds or may leave the park and their bodies be consumed by companion animals who will suffer the same fate.
PETA does not believe that the culling of animals is a suitable or effective method of limiting populations. In fact, culling can often lead to an increase in the number of animals present, as it creates a more suitable habitat for increased reproduction.
Humane, long-term population-control techniques do exist. Possible long-term solutions include immunocontraception for target animals.
In one European study, a long-lasting fertility suppressant succeeded in establishing an 89 per cent reduction in the fertility of feral female goats that lasted for at least two years after treatment. And immunocontraception has already been used on companion dogs in shelters in some situations.
Other humane methods include reducing the availability of appropriate shelters and placing exclusion fencing at appropriate points.
Torturing and killing animals will never restore balance to the natural environment. The only reasonable solution is either to make the land itself inhospitable to the animals or to work on controlling animal populations by reducing their fertility.
Funding should be concentrated on nonlethal methods rather than poisons and other inhumane slaughter options.
Laying baits that leave dogs and probably many other species of animals dying slowly in agony is not an acceptable solution.
Desmond Bellamy, Special Projects Coordinator, PETA Australia, Byron Bay