Fisheries scientists are on the verge of releasing a virus aimed at eradicating carp from our rivers.

THE Victorian government wants to shoot the Kosciuszko brumbies and the NSW government wants to protect them. Shooting horses is a massively emotive issue. It caused huge angst at the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service a decade or so ago when an aerial shoot at Guy Fawkes National Park left several horses wandering around wounded, not lying dead as intended. It didn’t help that these animals were descendants of the famous Walers that the Australian Light Horse took to Palestine in World War 1.

Killing feral animals is a polarising issue. For years NSW park managers have tried to talk their ministers into letting them eradicate the Java Rusa deer which have lived in the Royal National Park for over a century. A couple of times they’ve got close to an OK, but then deer-supporters have marshalled local schoolkids and the mainstream media and run successful, emotive “please don’t kill Bambi” campaigns.

In the world of fish, fisheries scientists are on the verge of releasing a virus aimed at eradicating carp from our rivers. What could go wrong? Well, at least some scientific critics are not convinced that the virus won’t be able to cross over to other, native fish species. And there are going to be tonnes and tonnes of dead carp all through our inland waterways, causing oxygen crashes which could impact all sorts of desirable local species. Government’s response? Trust us, we’ll clean up the dead carp. Yeah sure…and the Sydney light rail will be finished this month and our new toll-laden motorways will “fix” Sydney’s traffic congestion.

So, should it be all out war on carp, redfin, tilapia and peacock bass because they’re non-native ferals in the wrong place? Yes? Then what about trout and salmon? And what about natives introduced into impoundments and rivers outside their native ranges…barra, Murray cod, bass, sooty grunter? Their impact on long established local species can be just as significant as many of the true ferals.

Unofficial translocation of species to reseed river system has gone on forever. Old timers used to move cod between river systems, not realising that they were mixing Murray cod with Eastern freshwater cod. Several “mixed” rivers now include populations of hybrid cod as well as the originals.

Maybe we just must accept that European settlement changed Australia and its flora and fauna forever and take a more pragmatic approach to feral animal management and translocation issues. Trout and redfin are much loved by some, just as are wild horses. When US national park mangers poisoned rivers to remove non-local trout species, anglers just illegally re-introduced them. But of course, there’s still cane toads, feral cats, rabbits and foxes to consider.



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