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Qld 'death row dingo' saga council replies

AAP logoAAP 18/08/2016 By Jamie McKinnell

A far North Queensland council has questioned the state government's outcry over a "death row dingo" program when it approved trials in the first place.

The Hinchinbrook Shire Council drew the ire of animal rights activists after it developed a plan to set surgically-sterilised dingoes onto feral goat populations on Pelorus Island, north of Townsville.

The dogs had also been implanted with time-delayed poison pellets, making them a form of self-destructing pest control.

But environment minister Dr Steven Miles issued a conservation order to shut the program down on Thursday, telling state parliament he had been contacted by opposition MPs about the "inhumane" project.

"This order will effectively end the death row dingo plan," he said.

Dr Miles labelled the scheme "bizarre" and "ill-conceived", demanding all dingoes on the island be removed within 14 days.

Mayor Ramon Jayo said the council would comply, but he wasn't impressed with the criticism levelled at council in parliament.

"It was the minister's own government that issued the approvals for the trials in the first instance and it is the minister's own government that has instructed us to stop," he said.

In hitting out at the plan, Dr Miles said a similar project in the 1990s saw dingoes released on Townshend Island, but it later caused problems for native birds.

Pelorus Island's bird species, including the threatened ground-dwelling beach stone curlew, currently had no significant predators, he said.

Cr Jayo said the saga showed the agriculture minister had no handle on what was happening in her own department.

"The facts are that this program has been in the planning and research phase for a significant period before the state government issued approvals to proceed," he said.

The Liberal National Party's (LNP) Moggil MP Dr Christian Rowan wrote to Dr Miles late last month saying the situation was considered "as horrendous as the recent live baiting greyhound scandal".

"Whilst both dingoes and feral goats can be a problem for farmers, there is surely a more humane way to deal with them," he wrote.

But Dr Rowan's LNP colleague Andrew Cripps, the Member for Hinchinbrook, had thrown his support behind the plan, describing it as "innovative and practical".

Mr Cripps said criticism of the strategy ignored the fact that goats were damaging the environment on the island and that other methods of eradication were unsuccessful.

RSPCA Queensland CEO Mark Townend welcomed moves to shut the program down.

"We felt there were significant animal welfare issues," he said.

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