NPWS ranger Holly North says the annual 1080 fox-baiting program is about to start at South Ballina to help protect the endangered pied oystercatcher and other threatened shorebirds.
NPWS ranger Holly North says the annual 1080 fox-baiting program is about to start at South Ballina to help protect the endangered pied oystercatcher and other threatened shorebirds. Rebecca Lollback

Fox baiting poses risk to pets

SOUTH Ballina's fox-baiting program is about to start, so dog owners are being warned to keep their pets away from the beach and the Richmond River Nature Reserve.

National Parks and Wildlife ranger Holly North said Mobbs Bay, a popular swimming spot, would be targeted for the first time this year.

“We have beach stone-curlews that really want to nest there,” she said.

“Mobbs Bay has a range of habitat, including mangroves and wetlands, that provide habitat for shorebirds to forage, roost and breed.

“People aren't meant to take dogs there, but they do, so we need to raise awareness. The baits are designed to kill foxes, but they can also kill dogs.”

The North Coast is also one of the prime breeding areas for the pied oystercatcher, which is now listed as an endangered species.

Foxes are their main predator.

They seek out clutches of eggs, that are laid in shallow depressions in sand dunes just above the high tide mark.

“The NSW population of pied oystercatchers is only about 250 individuals and the South Ballina to Iluka population is identified as a statewide priority,” Ms North said.

“Last year 10 young pied oystercatchers fledged in this area.”

Fox baiting, using 1080 poison, started in 1997 and Ms North said the program had been very successful.

But not everyone is in favour of it. In the past, South Ballina residents have complained their dogs have been killed by the baits, which are pieces of meat injected with the poison.

Others say it is an inhumane way to kill the foxes.

Ms North said the co-operation of beach users and residents was crucial to the survival of the shorebirds.

“Four-wheel-drive vehicles should time their trips to the beach to ensure they only drive at low tide to avoid ...where the pied oystercatchers nest,” she said.

Baits will be laid from south wall at South Ballina to about 6.5km south of the Black Rocks Camping Area in Bundjalung National Park from early July until December.



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