Rabbit bait concerns

SCHOOL staff, parents and local residents are concerned about a rabbit baiting program in one of Sale’s newer residential estates.

Pindone, which is used to poison rabbits, but can cause death in other species, has been laid in an area of the Glenhaven estate, including along the boundary of Sale Specialist School.

The poison causes fatal haemorrhages in susceptible animals.

There is a sign in the area informing residents of the baiting, but a school spokesperson said it was not contacted.

“We had no idea until one of the staff saw something on Facebook,” a school spokesperson said.

“We made the oval out of bounds for students, and photos of the bait were distributed to staff.”

Many residents in the estate appear to have found out about the baiting through a Facebook post, which has been shared more than 400 times, many expressing concern about pets, children and the fact they had not been notified directly.

One resident said she had to look for a sign, and found one affixed to the back of a keep-left sign.

Other residents said they had taken it upon themselves to door knock and tell neighbours.

The commercial operator who undertook the baiting said it would continue for about two weeks, adding it was necessary to target a severe rabbit infestation.

“The chemical used is Pindone, which is the safest option in regard to impact on non-target species,” he said.

“Information on Pindone, and on the baiting program, is available via contact information on a sign posted at the entrance to the estate.”

He said the program was being carried out “in compliance with the relevant legislation” and the Gippsland Times is not in any way suggesting he is operating outside the law.

“Due to the very minimal risk posed by Pindone, no signage is required for its use,” the operator added.

The Agriculture Victoria website said Pindone was suitable for use in most urban areas, as it had an antidote (vitamin K1), where non-target animals such as domestic dogs may be at risk.

Pindone may be bought as either pre-mixed carrot or oat bait, and the form being used in the estate is a carrot bait.

According to the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources and Agriculture Victoria, the use of vertebrate pesticides is regulated under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992, and must be used in accordance with prohibitive label statements or distance restrictions.

A spokesperson said Pindone baits were schedule six poisons that required the target animal to ingest sufficient quantity of the chemical over a period of time in order to receive a lethal dose.

“Unlike some vertebrate pesticides, they also have an antidote that is commonly available at veterinary practices,” the spokesperson added.

“Commercial use of vertebrate pesticides is restricted to people that have undertaken the required training and hold a commercial operators licence issued by DEDJTR.”

An Agriculture Victoria chemical standards officer has spoken with the commercial operator that undertook this baiting program, and he had been encouraged to take additional steps over and above the legal minimum required to manage community concerns.

The Department of Primary Industries website said cattle, goats, chickens, cats and dogs were less susceptible than rabbits, but still may be at risk if exposed to large doses, or smaller doses on successive days.

A number of native species are likely to be as sensitive as rabbits to the effects of Pindone.

Macropods, bandicoots and a range of seed-eating birds are susceptible to primary poisoning.

Secondary poisoning can occur in species which feed on poisoned rabbits and carcasses, including raptors.

“To reduce the risks of Pindone exposure to humans and non-target animals and to maximise effect on rabbit populations, bait should not be laid in the following instances — when rain is expected in the next 24 hours; in urban areas on residential blocks less than 1000 square metres in size, in areas that are accessible to livestock or domestic animals, where streams, waterways or rivers may become contaminated, where children may have access,” the department advises.

A sign in the area indicates the baiting began on January 25, and will continue until February 15.