EARLY trials carried out by the Agriculture Department on a new factory-produced bait for wild dogs in the west Pilbara have shown encouraging results.
The sausage-type bait has been dubbed Pro Bait Plus because it is similar to Pro Bait that has been developed by the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) for fox control in the western shield fauna recovery program.
Agriculture Department pest researcher Peter Thomson said the results from the preliminary trials comparing conventional dried baits with the Pro Bait Plus baits have shown that the uptake from wild dogs had been similar.
"Further trials will need to be carried out before we have more conclusive results to work with," Mr Thomson said.
"But to date the trials have indicated that a similar proportion of conventional baits and Pro Bait Plus baits were taken by wild dogs."
The Pro Bait Plus baits are meat-based and are processed like a salami sausage.
Pro Bait Plus is not registered for commercial use yet.
The trials on Pro Bait Plus baits were carried out on a property in the west Pilbara during March and April with unpoisoned but marked baits to determine the uptake by wild dogs.
"Both dried conventional meat baits and the salami type Pro Bait Plus baits contained chemical bio-markers and both types of baits were laid in the same area and left," Mr Thomson said.
"In the months of May and June we took samples of wild dogs in the area that were killed to check for the presence of those chemical bio-markers and we found from that trial that the uptake of Pro Bait Plus baits and conventional dried meat baits was similar.
"Although we were encouraged by the trials more research is required before we could make a recommendation to suggest that the industry takes on Pro Bait Plus for wild dog control because to date there isn't quite enough information available to allow us to be as confident as we'd like to be."
Full scale testing is planned by the Agriculture Department for April and May next year.
According to Mr Thomson if the Pro Bait Plus does prove to be a successful tool in the control of wild dogs one of the advantages would be that it could be made available as an off the shelf product providing pastoralists with dog problems had the correct authorisation to buy the baits.
"The advantage with the CALM Pro Bait used for fox control is that it doesn't rely on a solid chunk of meat which would be advantageous from a processor's point of view," he said.
"Currently processors are having to cut chunks of meat from the butt of a kangaroo carcass which can be a fiddly and time consuming procedure whereas the Pro Baits being used for fox control by CALM are minced which removes a labour intensive procedure for processors.
"In terms of meat supply it would help to have manufactured salami type baits because smaller meat processors could probably provide quite a volume of straight meat, whereas currently processors have to be quite big operators to get the quantities of big muscle blocks for the conventional dried meat baits.
"Even if further Pro Bait Plus trials prove that the baits may be an effective tool, they may not totally replace the dried baits being used now but could add to the arsenal against wild dogs as another type of bait available."
CALM acting senior environmental officer John Asher said the machine used to manufacture Pro Baits for fox baiting in the western shield fauna recovery program can manufacture 20-30,000 baits a day that are automatically injected with 1080 compared with around 20,000 conventional dried meat baits turned out by the Agriculture Department in a week for baiting programs.