Lead bullets, 1080 and carnivores

Tasmania ... wildlife could benefit from minor changes to pest control regulations
Tasmania … legislation could end the era of toxic animal carcasses littering the rural landscape

If you follow this blog and trust the author then you know two thylacines were alive in Tasmania in 2012.

Though extant, the species has not bounced back despite almost a century of protection.

It teeters on the edge of extinction in the remote parts of the island.

What holds them back?

Given the number of toxic wallaby carcasses left around rural Tasmania, it is hardly surprising this rare carnivore has not grown back in number.

As a farmer and shooter, I rarely use toxic lead bullets.

Nor do I control pest animals with poison baits.

Lead fragments in carcasses causes huge problems for carnivores.

Lead has been found in Tasmania’s wedge-tailed eagles, and in Tassie devils.

In the USA, they must give endangered condors chelation treatments to get the lead out of their bodies.

Bears and other animals are also affected.

The lead found in carnivores comes from bullet fragments left in the remains of animals shot by hunters.

Tests have shown that captive Tassie devils, fed the remains of shot animals, have more lead in them than wild devils.

Poison, usually 1080, has been used to control wallabies in Tasmania.

Devils have some resistance to 1080 poison, but quolls are less able to survive it.

Of course, with the thylacine, no one knows if they are resistant.

Organophosphates are used illegally to kill protected animals such as eagles and devils, because they sometimes kill lambs.

No animals have resistance to organophosphate poisons.

Pindone is a popular rabbit poison that might also be a problem for carnivores that ingest affected rabbits.

Recreational shooters would happily clear rabbits from a farm, so there are alternatives.

Farmers and forestry do most of the large-scale rural pest control in Tasmania.

Forestry contractors kill wallabies when seedlings are planted.

The animals are either poisoned or shot.

Farmers control wallabies and possums because they destroy pasture and fruit crops.

I propose that all pest animal control should be done by shooting, trapping and fencing.

For the sake of all Tasmanian carnivores, and human consumers of game meat, pest control shooting should be done with non-toxic bullets.

Lead shot has already been banned for waterfowl hunting in many parts of the world.

Some countries have banned lead rifle projectiles.

While non-toxic bullets are usually not as good as lead bullets in terms of efficiency, they do the job well enough.

I use a .22 rimfire rifle with tin bullets and they work fine. The accuracy is not red hot but it is good enough.

Unfortunately there is no non-toxic .22 rimfire cartridge available in subsonic, an otherwise ideal pest control cartridge for quietly knocking off pest animals around a small farm.

With lead bullets and 1080 poison removed, there would be fewer toxic wallabies or possums left lying around the state, and devils, eagles and quolls would benefit.

Humans and their pet cats and dogs would benefit too, because lead is toxic to anyone or anything that eats lead from shot game meat.

With clean meat lying around, instead of poisonous muck, the thylacine might even make a comeback.

Anyway, don’t take my word for the perils of lead bullets, read the advice from the USA’s top national parks authority … https://www.nps.gov/pinn/learn/nature/leadinfo.htm

Tasmanian Life