NSW Farmers Association calls for bounty on foxes

By Dominic Geiger

The NSW Farmers Association (NFA) has called for a bounty to be placed on foxes and wild dogs to help reduce the pests’ growing numbers across the state.

The bounty would work along the lines of the current Victorian model, with $10 being awarded per fox and $50 per wild dog.

Chairperson of the Conservation and Research Management Committee at the NFA, Rod Young, said a change in livestock running practises combined with a good season had allowed fox numbers to explode.

“Years ago, there used to be a lot of people shooting for hides, but that stopped when the [fur] industry went,” he said.

“The sheep population has also dropped to a historical low; where you used to have groups of sheep farmers who were collectively baiting for foxes, you now have cattle farmers who don’t bait and leave the sheep farmers isolated.

“A bounty may be an incentive for property owners to allow responsible people onto their land to control fox numbers.

“If combined with baiting, a bounty could be successful in significantly reducing fox numbers.”

Mr Young stressed the importance of only allowing responsible shooters onto properties.

“Obviously it would be up to landowners to police what sort of person goes onto their property,” he said.

Lachlan LHPA senior ranger, Craig Ridley, said he was concerned a bounty would encourage irresponsible people to go out shooting, regardless of whether landowners picked the right people for the job.

“I’d be extremely cautious introducing a bounty,” he said.

“It has a downside, and that’s the idiot factor; we could start losing livestock and, God forbid, people.

“It could encourage idiots to shoot on roadsides.

“The best approach in reducing fox numbers is integrated pest management, which involves a group of landholders conducting coordinated baiting as well as possible shooting.”

Native birds bearing the brunt of bad baits

A Black Shouldered Kite; one of the species of birds of prey disappearing from the Lachlan area. Picture courtesy of Terry Evans.

By Dominic Geiger

Condobolin resident Michael Sealey used to see all manner of birds of prey while driving along the Parkes Road.

Lately however, he’s noticed a few of the species have been disappearing.

“Numbers have definitely gone down,” he said.

“It’s mostly the smaller raptors, the kestrels and black shouldered kites, who feed on mice that have disappeared.

“I find [these birds] interesting, so I’ve noticed they’re no longer around.

“I regularly drive on the Parkes Road and I used to see them all the time but not anymore.

“The poisonous mouse baits are to blame and they’re going to kill a lot more native birds.”

Michael isn’t alone in his concerns; Birds Australia Conservation Manager, Samantha Vine, said raptor numbers have been declining anywhere mice numbers have become a problem.

“With a mouse plague affecting areas of eastern and southern Australia, this should be a time of feasting for many of Australia’s birds,” she said.

“Unfortunately, some mouse baits, particularly illegal baits, have the potential to turn the feast into an untimely death for [these] birds.

“Small carnivorous birds such as kestrels, falcons and owls may be killed when they eat poisoned mice.

“When used correctly, registered chemicals such as zinc phosphide and bromadiolone present a low level of risk to wildlife.

“The real problem occurs when farmers resort to making their own, illegal baits using cocktails of chemicals, including insecticides.

“We have every sympathy for landholders who’ve struggled through drought, floods, locusts and now, a mice plague.

“However illegal mixtures can have far-reaching effects on humans, pets, wildlife and the environment.”

Proprietor of Owen’s Rural Supplies in Condobolin, Simone Beattie, said it was simple desperation that led some farmers to mix their own baits.

“There are a few different baits that are available however the safer baits such as MouseOff (zinc phosphate) aren’t readily accessible,” she said.

“So the shortage in these baits is a contributing factor.

“I think the mice will become less of a problem now as they’re starting to disappear but it’s going to all start up again in spring.”

Beware of hopping hazards on NSW roads

Central west drivers are being encouraged to watch out for kangaroos on the road with recently released figures from NRMA insurance stating the marsupials accounted for 75 percent of all animal related collisions last year.

The insurer said data also showed NSW had the highest rate of collisions compared to the other states with over 7,000 claims.

NRMA Insurance Head of Research, Robert McDonald, said kangaroos continue to pose a serious hazard on country roads.

“Kangaroos are often looking for food at sunrise and sunset and it’s during this time that an increased number of collisions occur.

“We have seen a reduction in animal related collision claims this year, which may be due to many of the regions moving out of drought conditions, which means animals tend to be less active near busy roads or highways, hunting for food.

“We want to urge all drivers to be aware when at the wheel.

“How you react when you see a kangaroo on the road can potentially save lives.

“Drivers should also be mindful when dogs and cats are near the road with data showing that dogs are the second most likely animal to be involved in a collision.

The Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) said kangaroos are an iconic feature of the Australian countryside.

WIRES General Manager, Leanne Taylor, said certain areas have seen the numbers of particular species of kangaroos dwindle with traffic accidents significantly contributing to the decline.

“If you hit a kangaroo and it is critically injured, please call WIRES or your local wildlife group or call the police,” Ms Taylor said.

NRMA Insurance offers some advice for NSW drivers: If you see a kangaroo on or near the road, you should try and brake, but not swerve to avoid a collision; reduce your speed inside sign posted wildlife areas; if you hit the animal and safety permits, you should try to help by moving it to the side of the road to prevent further crashes; don’t force the animal to eat or drink and contact a local veterinarian or a wildlife rescue centre such as WIRES.

Animal collision hotspots in the Central West area include: Dubbo with 101, Parkes with 42, Orange with 39, Forbes with 31 and Condobolin with 30.

It’s not easy finding your way home from Bogan Gate

Eddie Marold and new found friend Bob Smidey releasing pigeons at Bogan Gate.

By Dominic Geiger

The skies over Bogan Gate were filled with pigeons last Saturday as part of the start to Cowra Racing Pigeon Club’s 2011 season.

Approximately 132 pigeons made the 116km journey home from Bogan Gate while a second group of birds were released from Grenfell.

Despite clear skies at the time of release, progressively worsening conditions throughout the day saw only 90% of the pigeons return to Cowra.

President of the Cowra Racing Pigeon Club, Greg Wright, said the pigeons used the magnetic pull of the poles to orientate themselves.

“Many birds are able to sense the earth’s magnetic field,” he said.

“They can also apparently see up to 150 miles in front of them,” he said.

Greg said the pigeon’s ability to navigate would truly be put to the test over the coming months.

“Bogan Gate was just early days; we’ll be there again next week before slowly moving north to Tullamore, Tottenham and Nyngan,” he said.

“By the end of the season we’ll be letting the pigeons go from incredible distances including Charleville and Cunnamulla in Queensland.”

The flock of pigeons will be released at 12pm this Saturday in Bogan gate.

Anyone interested in finding more information on the Cowra Racing Pigeon Club can visit the club’s website at http://cowraracingpigeonclub.yolasite.com/

Eddie and Bob watch the pigeons soar away.


Dung beetles dig in at Condobolin

Anne Foster holding some Bubas bison. DGBy Dominic Geiger

A property just south of Condobolin has become a regional first thanks to the introduction of 2,500 Bubas bison dung beetles.

The beetle’s release is significant as unlike locally active dung beetles, Bubas bison are primarily active in the winter.

Landowner, Ann Foster, said it was her son, Grant Relf, who originally suggested introducing the beetles to the property just off the West Wyalong Road.

“The soil here is incredibly hard and we wanted to improve it without having to use fertilizer,” Ann said.

“Grant got in touch with [a number of councils] and was put in contact with John Feehan who is an expert on dung beetles.

“John said these beetles were perfectly suited for the area but had never actually been used in the Condobolin or West Wyalong districts.”

Though native to Mediterranean regions of Europe, John said the beetles posed no threat to local biodiversity.

“I’ve released 5000 of these beetles with the CSIRO and many more since that and I haven’t heard a single complaint about them,” he said.

“Bubas bison are only active in areas where the native beetles are not as native dung beetles evolved to live in the scrub and bush whereas these ones are perfectly at home in paddocks.

“The release that took place [last Friday] is the first for the entire area – it’s a little bit of history taking place.

“It’s also particularly relevant given the carbon trading debate going on at the moment as dung beetles help store the carbon which exists in cow dung by burying it underground.

“they also reduce bush fly populations by up to 99%.

“Hopefully these beetles will now spread to neighbouring properties and become a sustainable population.”

Anyone wishing to purchase or obtain more information on dung beetles can contact John on 6248 0376.


Lake Cargelligo suffers high fish mortality

Clockwise from left: A trail of bony bream on the shore of Lake Cargelligo, the line of dead fish still floating in the water and a pile of dead bream at Frogs Hollow.By Dominic Geiger

Approximately one thousand bony bream have been found dead on the banks of Lake Cargelligo over the past two weeks.

Many of the fish are still floating in the water, with a line of dead bream stretching for several hundred metres near the shore.

There are also a number of dead rats on the bank.

Though the cause of death is unknown, a NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) spokesperson said the fish most likely died as a result of the cold weather and the winter mortality of bony bream.

“Conservation staff from NSW DPI have taken samples of the dead fish and water to try to determine the cause of the fish kill,” the spokesperson said.

“NSW DPI is currently awaiting the results of [these tests].”

The majority of the fish range between five and ten centimetres and have been found in the area around Frogs Hollow.

Lake Cargelligo newsagent owner, Gus Blacker, said he was surprised at DPI’s response.

“I didn’t think the weather was cold enough here to significantly lower the temperature of the lake,” he said.

“A similar thing happened a couple of years ago and we [never found out] why they were dying.”

Gus said he had reported the dying fish to DPI last Thursday however he had encountered difficulty getting in touch with someone who actually knew where Lake Cargelligo was.

“The only number I could find was for Canberra, so I called that but the person I spoke to put me through to Goulburn,” he said.

“I tried to ask [that person] to put me through to Narrandera fisheries but they put me through to Cronulla.”

Gus also said he doubted anything would be done about the rotting fish left on the banks of the lake.

“It looks as though the fish will be left to go back to nature similar to what happened with the carp when the lake dried up,” he said.

Though The Argus attempted to contact Lachlan Shire Council in regards to the cleanup, they were unable to provide a response prior to this story going to print.


Horses need shoes too

Local Condobolin farrier Graham (Spud) Whiley, fitting ‘Merlin’ with some new shoes. OMAdvertorial

Most people will agree that holding up the leg of a several hundred kilogram horse while you upgrade its footwear is not the easiest job in the world.

But according to local farrier Graham (Spud) Whiley, maintaining a horse’s feet is one of the most important aspects of owning one.

Spud began farrier work 13 years ago after a problem with one of his own horses hooves sparked an interest in learning how to treat such cases.

He then enrolled in a three year farrier and blacksmith course at Scone in NSW, which involved extensive study of horse anatomy and hoof function as well as lameness problems and corrective shoeing.

Spud also had the opportunity to work alongside vets where he has learned to interpret scans and x-rays as well to correspond with vets and chiropractors.

With a family that has been involved in Pony Club for many years, Spud has had a vast amount of experience with horses and this shows in his calm and confident manner when handling them.

Spud works with horses of all shapes and sizes and is happy to travel to do so.

He currently travels to clients in Parkes, Forbes, Tottenham, Trundle, Tullamore and Lake Cargelligo.

You can make an appointment with Spud by giving him a call on 0427 480 325 or 02 6896 2210.


Pest fish ‘Tilapia’ threaten Murray-Darling

Male and female TilapiaCompiled by Dominic Geiger

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is currently conducting a program to help educate communities in the Murray-Darling Basin about the potential threat of the invasive pest fish species, the Tilapia.

Though not yet established in NSW, the fish has been found in many waterways surrounding the northern part of the basin in south east Queensland.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) Aquatic Biosecurity Officer, Debra Ballagh, said if the Tilapia was to establish itself in the Murray Darling Basin, it could become a major problem in the Lachlan River.

“Once established in a flowing river or creek, these fish are almost impossible to eradicate so it is important to stop the spread of Tilapia now before it’s too late,” she said.

“Tilapia impact on native fish numbers by competing for habitat and food, behaving aggressively, disturbing aquatic vegetation and could potentially introduce disease and parasites.

“The Murray-Darling Basin is already infested with pest fish including European carp, and if Tilapia were to establish in the river system the additional pest species may significantly impact native species populations.”

Debra said she encourages anyone living in the Murray-Darling Basin who suspects they have seen a Tilapia to contact the aquatic biosecurity hotline on 4916 3877 or send an e-mail to aquatic.pest@industry.nsw.gov.au.


Dumped kittens emphasise need for Condobolin vet

Kittens were dumped carelessly on the edge of the Golf Links Road, Condobolin.By Dominic Geiger

The discovery of the bodies of three mutilated kittens, dumped carelessly on the Golf Links Road in Condobolin, was almost too much for Wendy Toms to bear.

“I’m a real cat person,” she said.

“I was really upset; when I walked back I couldn’t look at them… I had to walk on the other side of the road.”

Discovered during her morning walk earlier this month, Wendy said the kittens looked as though they had been strangled before they were dumped.

“I was walking along and I could see something at the end of the road,” she said.

“As I got closer I could see the distinct bodies of three kittens who were probably about two or three months old.

“There was one; his little head seemed to be turned at an odd angle; it just didn’t look right.”

Wendy said she believed the discovery could have been avoided if Condobolin had a vet.

“Not having a vet in town creates a problem; people need to get their animals desexed,” she said.

“If you’re not going to get your animals desexed you’ll end up with an unwanted litter.

“If people feel as though they need to do something horrendous [to the litter], then don’t put them by the side of the road.

“I haven’t been out to that road since.”

Mouse baits put farmers and wildlife at risk

NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) is reminding farmers to only use registered mice baits and follow all label instructions to minimise impacts on wildlife and domestic animals.

“Mice baits pose a significant risk to farmers, domestic animals, birds and other wildlife if they aren’t used correctly,” NSW DPI’s Director of Invasive Species, John Tracey, said.

“There are currently two rodenticides registered for baiting, bromadiolone for perimeter baiting and zinc phosphide for broadacre baiting.

“Registered baits have met strict requirements and their usage is overseen by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

“It’s critical farmers closely read the label and follow all safety and environmental directions, delivery rates, storage and disposal requirements.”

Mr Tracey said the adoption of good management techniques can minimise the impact on non-target species, particularly birds and other wildlife.

“Farmers should closely monitor mice numbers and baits should only be applied where there is high mice activity,” Mr Tracey said.

“Baits should also be placed late in the afternoon as the peak feeding time for mice is dusk and dawn.”

Mr Tracey said farmers should steer clear of illegal and home made baits.

“Illegal baits have shown to be ineffective in controlling mice and also pose a significant risk to non-target species, the environment, farm animals, pets and children,” he said.

“These baits also contravene pesticide regulations and present a major occupational health and safety risk for farmers who mix these baits at home.

“Poor practices and illegal baits can lead to ‘bait shyness’ meaning mice are less likely to eat the real bait next time.

“Farmers should discuss mice control measures and baiting options with their NSW DPI district agronomist or LHPA ranger.”

Office of Environment and Heritage regulate chemical usage and serious penalties apply for bait misuse.

Watch out, animals about!

An RTA spokesperson has announced the launch of a radio safety campaign to help increase awareness among rural motorists about the dangers animals on the road can present.
“While most crashes involving animals are minor, in the past five years there were 967 crashes on western NSW roads involving an animal where someone was killed or injured, or a vehicle was so badly damaged it had to be towed,” an RTA spokesperson said.
“One in five crashes on rural roads involves an animal, and not just wild animals, straying stock like cattle and sheep, also present a risk to motorists.
“Crashes involving animals are on the rise because of the large amount of food available next to roads.
“Also, as winter approaches the days are becoming shorter, so there are more drivers on the road during the high risk times of dusk and dawn.
“This is when native animals are most active and when the safety campaign will air on local radio stations. The advertisements aim to alert motorist to the risks and remind them to take extra care.”
“Motorists should be on the lookout for animals on rural roads especially if there are animal warning signs displayed in the area.
“Reduce your speed – you’ll have more time to see and respond to an animal on the road if you are travelling slower. If a crash does occur, it will be less severe.
“Finally, remember that swerving may result in you losing control of your vehicle.
“If a motorist swerves the vehicle can veer into the path of another vehicle or run off the road.
“Injured native wildlife can be reported to Wires on 1800 641 188,” the spokesperson said.
Radio advertising will be heard until the end of June on various radio stations in the west of the state.

Cowboys & cowgirls head to Cobar this Saturday

This weekend’s Cobar Rodeo has received more than two hundred entries.
Cobar Rodeo Committee Inc President, Cameron Cutting, said he was impressed with the amount of entries for the 2011 Rodeo.
It will be the first full day of rodeo entertainment to be held in Cobar for many years.
Some of the top Australian Bushman’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association (ABCRA) Rodeo competitors in NSW have nominated for the Rodeo to be held at the traditional home for rodeo in Cobar, Dalton Park Racecourse this Saturday the 4th of June.
Popular events include steer wrestling, steer undecorating,  team roping, junior, juvenile and ladies barrel racing and of course the spectacular novice and open bull and bronc rides.
The bull rides which are always the crowd favourite will feature bulls like Peter Kennedy’s (“Nakadoo”) bucking stocks ‘Russian Roulette’ a (ABCRA) national finals selected bull, ranked in the top 15 in Australia and “Party Boys” a mean looking black bull that has only ever been ridden once. Nakadoo’s ‘Jackass” a young bull showing plenty of spunk and attitude is certain to give the cowboy who draws him a run for his money and the spectators plenty to cheer about when he struts his stuff  after he is bucked out. A drawcard in the broncs is ‘’Ride Tuff Dark and Stormy’’ twice winner of ABCRA national bucking horse of the year.
The rodeo clowns are the unsung heros that will entertain the spectators with bravado and quick moves to ensure the safety of the bull riders, whilst the pick up men back up the bronc riders.
Children’s entertainment on the day will include air brushed tattoos and a jumping castle, Shane Josephson will be entertaining the crowd during breaks with live music and the mechanical bull will be at the grounds for all ages to enjoy.
Some of the confirmed trade stalls include Curio Clothing, Landmark Russell, Kangaroo Gardens and a western outfitter of the Hunter Valley.
Cameron said the gates for the rodeo will open at 8am and it is expected that the drawcard events will be well underway by mid morning, so come along early and grab a good spot. Vehicles cannot be parked near the arena rails this year as they were in past years due to safety concerns, there will be grandstand seating supplied, but spectators are welcome to bring a chair if they choose.
A bar will be operating and the Cobar Pony Club will keep the hunger pangs at bay with their canteen.  No alcohol is to be brought into the rodeo grounds and a security guard will be on the gate to confirm the over 18s by licence identification and wristbands.
People who are keen to party on after the rodeo can hop on the courtesy bus that is being provided by the Cobar Bowling and Golf Club after the last event.
Cameron said the committee would like to thank our sponsors for their generous support and look forward to a great day on Saturday.

Zoomobile comes to Condobolin

Rod Cheal providing an up close and personal experience with a very friendly echidna for the children of St Josephs, Condobolin.A number of Condobolin children had the opportunity to learn about and experience some of Australia’s native wildlife last week with the Taronga Zoomobile making visits to Condobolin Preschool and St Joseph’s School.
The Zoomobile, which works in partnership with the NSW Department of Education and Training, is designed to give children who can’t normally access a zoo a chance to learn about Australian native animals.
Education Advisor from Taronga Zoo Education Centre, Rod Cheal, said the Zoomobile’s visit to Condobolin featured a show called ‘Animals of the Dreaming’.
“Col Hardy, who’s a Golden Guitar recipient, helped present the show which told stories about animals, the dreaming and some of Col’s own personal stories,” he said.
“The show focused on giving the kids a chance to view animals with conservation eyes.
“It allowed them to think about the conservation of an animal rather than seeing it as a threat like, for example, a brown snake at home.”
Rod said the students absolutely loved getting the chance to see an echidna up close.
“It was a real friendly echidna and the children were able to pat it, which is something they probably wouldn’t usually be able to do,” he said.
Preschool director Melissa Nesbitt said all the children were involved and found the show fascinating; especially the chance to be able to touch the animals.

The Condobolin Argus – 10 years old

With The Condobolin Argus’ 10th birthday nearly upon us, first week of May, it seemed appropriate for a trip down memory lane to revisit some of the issues and events that have been critical in making The Argus the influential and relevant community newspaper it is today.
With so many editions archived in the depths of the Argus library, the task of revisiting important stories and campaigns seemed daunting at first, though with much perseverance, the team at The Argus has managed to compile a fairly concise list of ten achievements it feels have been most relevant to the Lachlan Shire community.
They are (in no particular order):
Joining the battle to keep the Condobolin Agricultural Research Station up and running.
In March 2009, The Argus reported on the NSW Labor Government’s decision to close the Condobolin Agricultural Research Station (CARAS). A surge of public protest culminating in a rally in Condobolin’s main street reversed that decision.
Helping prevent the closure of Target Country in Condobolin.
In January 2003, The Argus confirmed Condobolin Target Country would remain open despite pressure to close the store. The Argus supported the store during the resulting six month trial period through a ‘shop local’ campaign.
Helping to promote the Condobolin skate park project.
The Argus has been supporting the Condobolin skate park project for a number of years. The project is finally becoming a reality with the final draft becoming available for public comment following Lachlan Shire Council Meeting on 20th April.
Supporting the RTA’s ‘Three Shires’ initiative to help reduce the region’s road toll.
This project aims to increase road safety throughout the Lachlan, Forbes and Parkes shires. Part of this project has been the wheelie bin initiative, encouraging children to decorate wheelie bins in an effort to highlight road safety. The Argus played a large role in encouraging people to take part in this project, and now also has a very happy looking bin.
Providing full yet sensitive coverage of breaking news including human tragedies.
For example on the 2nd of December 2005, a ten-seater Piper Chieftain light plane crashed on Neil Baxter’s property ‘Craig End’. Unfortunately, the incident resulted in the loss of several lives and resulted in an Australian Transport Safety Bureau inquiry. The Argus printed continuous coverage of the incident from the crash to release of the inquiry.
Coverage of natural disasters.
The Argus has been instrumental in keeping the community aware of various fires and floods which have affected the region over the past ten years. With the real time news delivery available with the internet, The Argus can now deliver information to readers as soon as natural disasters unfold. This was most recently demonstrated during the floods in Ungarie last month.
Promotion of local tourism initiatives, particularly ‘Utes in the Paddock’.
Owing to the Argus’ commitment to improving tourism in the Lachlan Shire (and perhaps due to the fact our editor is one of the artists) Utes in the Paddock has become a ‘must see’ on any visitor’s to do list. Beginning in 2007, The Utes in the Paddock Project now includes 15 ute artworks and has been nominated for a NSW Heritage and Cultural Tourism Award and People’s Choice Tourist Experience Award.
Coverage of Aboriginal issues and events in the Lachlan Shire.
The Argus has strived to help ‘close the gap’ on Indigenous inequality though a focus on providing fair and unbiased reporting on events and issues important to the Wiradjuri community. The Argus has frequently reported positively on Aboriginal tourism, educational and employment initiatives.
Promotion of major events such as the Condo 750, Tattoo,  Condo B & S and our Australian Idol Shannon Noll.
The Argus has thrown its support behind various community oriented events over its ten year history. This promotion has been in the form of editorials, advertorials and extensive advertising features before, during and after events.
Support of local Charity Organisations
When major charity events and fundraisers happen in the Lachlan Shire, The Argus is always in the thick of the action, lending its promotional power to the event. Various charities and charitable organisations.

Support for Community much more than just words in a newspaper.
Born out of a large gathering of members from right across the community forming the view more could be done to promote our region, The Condobolin Argus actively pursues promotional opportunities in may different ways.
The paper looks to attract staff with high level skills and talents that offer its community additional benefits. One staff member worked tirelessly on submissions and promotion for the Professional Bull Riders event. That event attracting large crowds enhancing business for the local community. Yet another staff member successfully competed the local Show Girl promotion being awarded State Runner Up at the Royal Easter Show, thereby doing a magnificent job of promoting our region.
Focus for The Condobolin Argus is very firmly on assisting local community to promote itself, diligently managing advertisers funds to employ high level skills providing a holistic service. One portfolio sponsored by The Condobolin Argus in this way is that of ‘Community Promotions Officer’.
All of this has only been made possible by your strong support over the past ten years. Thank you for helping us to provide this service to our community.
To help your local community newspaper celebrate its 10th birthday and plan for many more, please drop on by the office at 93 Bathurst Street Condobolin during the first week of May -We’ll have some birthday cake.

Mice are not the only victims of baits

Written by Nik Cronin, Lachlan LHPA district vet

In this week’s article I am not discussing a livestock issue, but one which may be affecting one of the hardest workers on the farm, man’s best friend, the working dog.
Increased populations of mice in the district have lead to increased use of rat baits. The active ingredient in the common rat baits is generally a warfarin derivative that interferes with blood clotting. Animals that ingest the poison will be unable to clot their blood properly and start to spontaneously bleed. They may bleed externally from a wound, or internally, particularly into their lungs.
Unfortunately mice are not the only ones falling victim to rat baits – local vet clinics have been seeing a number of cases of rat bait poisoning in dogs recently. Dogs can be poisoned from directly eating the baits (which dogs generally find quite palatable), or from eating poisoned mice. The active is very strong so not much poison needs to be consumed for it to have a lethal effect.  Common presentations of affected dogs have been weakness and coughing associated with bleeding into the lungs.
If you see your dog eating rat bait it is important to contact your local vet clinic for advice straight away.  If you are using bait and you notice any signs that your dog may be suffering the effects of rat bait poisoning then you will need to get them to a vet clinic as soon as possible. The antidote for rat bait is Vitamin K but if your dog is showing signs of poisoning already they may need a blood transfusion to stem the bleeding while the Vitamin K starts to work.
The only way to totally avoid the threat of accidental poisonings is to use traps rather than baits.  If you do choose to use rat bait, the most important thing is to place it in areas not accessible to animals or young children. If possible you should seal off the immediate area and regularly check for poisoned mice and dispose of these in a safe place. However the poison makes mice thirsty so they may move to seek water. I found several sick mice on our lawn after the recent rain so it is important to keep an eye out for these and again dispose of safely. Because of this I will be checking my dog several times a day to make sure she is bright and well and that her gums are a nice bright pink colour.
If you have any questions about rat bait poisoning in animals you should contact your local vet clinic for further advice.

Carp Cull in Lake Cargelligo

By Dominic Geiger

A new carp eradication program is set to begin in Lake Cargelligo following successful trial operations both locally and in Tasmania.
The ‘Judas’ carp satellite tracking program will allow commercial fishermen to target large congregations of carp due to the pests’ tendency to form aggregations in warmer sections of the lake during winter.
I&I NSW Senior Fisheries Technician at Narrandera Fisheries Centre, Martin Asmus, said individual carp would be tagged using satellite tracking devices and then tracked until they formed a large school with other fish.
“The knowledge (gained from the electronically tagged carp’s movements) will hopefully maximise the efficiency of a commercial fisherman’s catch in terms of time and the amount of carp captured,” he said.
“I&I NSW is working closely with Lake Cargelligo Commercial fisher Keith Bell to track the movements of the electronically tagged carp.”
The new program builds on work undertaken since 2007 by a collaborative team to establish a demonstration site in the lower Lachlan catchment to trial and show-case carp control technologies developed by the Commonwealth funded Invasive Animals CRC.
Mr Asmus said it was impossible to guess at how many carp currently inhabit the Lachlan River system.
“Last September there would have been millions in Lake Cargelligo, now we believe there are tens of thousands,” he said.
“We hope to remove tonnes of carp from the lake every week with the new program.
“We’ll use the Judas system to primarily target carp in Lake Cargelligo, while using carp cages in other parts of the Lachlan.
“We have one near Condobolin at Island creek.
“These cages work based on the fact carp will jump out of the water if captured, whereas native fish won’t; the cage at the mouth of the Murray river averages about a tonne and a half per day.”

Wheeler’s Catch, Snap and Release Photo Competition

Ross Wheeler with his prized catch. John Wheeler submitted this photo as an example of the quality he will be looking for in the photos entered in the Catch, Snap and Release Photo Competition.By Jessica Symonds and Dominic Geiger

Get hooked on fishing this Easter with Wheeler’s Foodworks Catch, Snap and Release Fishing Photo Competition.
The competition, organised by John Wheeler of Wheeler’s Foodworks, and proudly supported by The Condobolin Argus, will be looking for the best photo taken of a fish and will run over the Easter holiday period.
John said he had organised the competition to encourage more people to form an interest in fishing.
“I know there are already a lot of anglers around Condobolin, so this competition is a way to not only encourage more people to take up the sport more seriously, but also to give those people who are already keen anglers an opportunity to win some prizes,” he said.
John said he thinks ‘catch and release’ is important in the conservation of our native fish, and to insure that there will be plenty of quality fish to be caught in the future.
“By all means take a fish to eat when the occasion calls for it providing it’s a legal catch, the choice is yours,” he said.
“It would just be good to see people thinking more about the future and a photo of a nice fish is a smarter and better looking way to show off your catch.
“Children are encouraged to snap a good photo of themselves with a fish, and then release it safely back into the water system.
“It also gives kids the opportunity to do something fun during the day, especially during the school holidays.
“The competition is also open to those with recently taken photographs from the past as everyone won’t have the chance to get out on the river.”
John said the competition would be judged on the quality and inventiveness of the photos, rather than how big the catch is.
He said this meant the winning entry could even be a photo of a carp.
“Even the smallest fish could win the competition, depending upon how great the snap is,” he said.
“Photo entries will be displayed in the shop, near the fishing tackle.
“It gives everyone a chance to see what’s been caught, and something for them to talk about.”
Entrants have the chance to win a great range of prizes including lures and spinnerbaits from businesses such as Australian Crafted Lures, Outlaw Spinnerbaits, Viking Lures and Mud Guts Spinnerbaits.
“I’m also willing to match the prices of other bigger fishing stores, including the internet, on products in stock and on special orders by request,” John said.
The Catch, Snap and Release Fishing Photo Competition will be running from Monday, 11th April 2011 to Monday, 2nd May 2011. Entrants of any age are invited to take part in the competition.

Zoo welcomes Eland Calf to the herd

Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed a female Eland Calf to the herd.Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed a female Eland calf to the herd on 1 February 2011.  The little female is doing very well and has already started to mingle with the older calves from last year’s breeding season.
“The mother has been showing all the right signs of being nurturing and caring, already mother and calf have bonded well together,” said Keeper Kristie Klaassens.
“The calf is taking everything in her stride and is often close to the front of the exhibit much to the delight of the Zoo’s visitors.”
The Zoo has also recently unveiled a new attraction with a safari themed jumping castle, now available in the free access area.
The Safari Jumping Castle is open daily during the school holidays and features a lion, jeep, ranger’s hut and slide and is suitable for children aged 3 – 12 years.  The cost is $3 per person, and is a great way to entertain the kids during the holidays or alternatively, can be the perfect end to a Zoo adventure.
Throughout the school holidays the Zoo offers a full schedule of free keeper talks that allow visitors to see some of the amazing wildlife during feed time.  The schedule now features two new talks including the Sumatran Tiger talk and the Ring-tailed Lemur talk.
“Be sure to catch some of these talks and learn more about the exotic and endangered animals that call the Zoo home,” said Kristie.
“Autumn is a great time to see the animals including our most recent arrival, the Eland calf, as well as Wapiti fawns, a Przwewalski’s Horse foal and a Bison calf all of which were born in late 2010.”
“The weather is also ideal for a picnic in the Zoo grounds.  A number of free gas barbecues are located throughout the Zoo and in the free access area and offers the perfect break in your Zoo experience,” said Kristie.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is located in Dubbo in Central Western NSW.  The Zoo opens from 9am – 5pm with last entry to the Zoo circuit at 3pm.  For more information contact 6881 1400 or visit www.taronga.org.au

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