The Operational Plan is made up of three pest control programs and planned to be implemented in July 2020. View the Operational Plan in full or scroll down for a summary on the programs which focus on the group's current pest priorities: wild dog, red fox, feral pig and european rabbit.
WILD DOG AND RED FOX PROGRAM
The Wild Dog and Red Fox Program will run in tandem with each other. Currently in the Midlands Biosecurity Group region, wild dog numbers are relatively low, while red fox numbers are high. Given that wild dogs are present in the region, it is important that land managers use wild dog strength baits to avoid bait-shyness in the wild dog population by exposing them to sub-lethal fox strength baits.
Poison-baiting is the most effective broad-scale fox control technique currently available. The MBG will be providing information to landholders about best-practice baiting techniques and encourage landholders to co-ordinate baiting together to ensure maximum impact at the right time. The group plans to run baiting days, where landholders will be able to discuss baiting strategies and take home bags of baits for use on their properties (Restricted Chemical Permit required). Licensed Pest Management Technicians (LPMT) will be available to assist farmers with their programs as well as continue to monitor areas of known wild dog hotspots. These technicians also help land-managers to make assessments as to whether leg-hold traps for wild dog control are suitable for their situation.
The first round of baiting days will be held in late 2020 in the following areas: Watheroo, Warradarge, Three Springs East, North Eneabba, Regans Ford, and Miling.
FERAL PIG PROGRAM
In December 2018 and March 2019, aerial shooting days in the Mingenew & Morawa region removed 544 pigs from the landscape in that region. Significant numbers of feral pigs have been reported throughout the Midlands region, however actual numbers have not yet been quantified.
Feral pigs have a reproductive potential more similar to rabbits than any other pest. Sows can breed from six months of age and can have up to two litters per year with an average litter size of six piglets. Feral pigs rely on water when moving throughout the landscape to keep cool and provide quality food.
Best practice feral pig control is centred around coordinated free-feeding and introduction of poison grain. Shooting is considered effective for small numbers of pigs and used as a ‘mopping-up’ exercise after a baiting program. Shooting alone has shown to have little impact on long term numbers of feral pigs and can scatter surviving pigs further through the landscape.
The MBG feral pig program plans to run across 100 properties a year starting in early 2021. This program will provide co-ordination, poison and a mop-up aerial shoot.
EUROPEAN RABBIT PROGRAM
Rabbit numbers are high in many areas of the Midlands Biosecurity Group region. Rabbits are prolific breeders and can produce five or more litters per year with an average of five young per litter. Female rabbits can breed from four months of age. There are a range of control methods used for rabbit control. Poison grain is the main form of control that should be used in conjunction with warren ripping, shooting and biological controls (i.e. virus). The MBG will provide co-ordination across land-tenure and provisions of baits and equipment.
SUPPORT AND COORDINATION PROGRAM
The Midlands Biosecurity Group (MBG) will provide support to landholders to access the latest information, assistance with applications for Restricted Chemical Permits and on ground support with control methods. The aim of the Recognised Biosecurity Group is to achieve co-ordinated control across the landscape. The area prescribed in the MBG has been chosen as it is connected by parkland, river systems and catchments. This includes Beekeepers reserve, the Watheroo National Park, the Yarra Yarra lake system and its catchment, and the Moore River. Around 25% of the area is managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA). The MBG and DBCA staff have been working together to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure the Nil Tenure approach to pest management is achieved.
Over the next six months the MBG will be continue with its on-ground activities, funded through the state and federal governments and the sheep industry. The group have three Licensed Pest Management Technicians (LPMT) who are working with growers and land managers to monitor pest activity and assist growers with their control programs.
In February, a number of workshops will be held throughout the seven shires of the MBG area. These workshops will provide an update on the MBG’s on-ground activities as well as continuing to provide information around pest management.
The MBG Board of Management and executive officer will be available to present to community groups and councils about the MBG to answer any questions raised.
The MBG is grower-led organisation and encourages any landholder in the region to become a member. Full membership is free and available to any person who owns or occupies over 100ha of land in the Midlands region. Membership is not applied automatically to those farming in the region and an application form must be filled out. Membership allows members exclusive and full voting rights at member meetings of the group including the AGM as well as access to the latest information.