Lake council to cull pests 

CANE toads and red-eared slider turtles have been targeted for elimination in Lake Macquarie, if the pests rear their heads in the city.

The species are high-priority targets in a new Lake Macquarie City Council Vertebrate Pest Management Strategy 2012-18.

‘‘Any sightings should be reported as soon as possible to bio-security authorities,’’ a council report said. 

‘‘There are no reported populations of the red-eared slider turtle or cane toad in the city, however populations have been sighted in neighbouring areas,’’ the report said.

The red-eared slider turtle was ‘‘listed globally as one of the world’s worst invaders and poses a serious threat to aquatic biodiversity’’.

Kill techniques of  ‘‘stunning, decapitation or destruction of the brain’’ were considered humane and inexpensive for red-eared slider turtles, the report said. Stunning, decapitation and carbon dioxide poisoning were ‘‘conditionally acceptable and cost-effective’’ for killing cane toads.

The council had a plan to control rabbits, to reduce damage to ‘‘high-value infrastructure such as playing fields, buildings and endangered ecological communities’’.

The report said it was ‘‘not possible to calculate [the council’s] annual expenditure on pest management’’.

Council sustainability manager Alice Howe said money spent controlling pests was part of council budgets.

The council proposed to give each job a specific project number  so it could track expenditure and have a guide for future budgets.

Dr Howe said additional money may be needed if cane toads or red-eared slider turtles emerged.

The strategy aims to eradicate wild dogs and feral pigs and reduce rabbit, carp, Indian myna and fox numbers. Cats were a concern. Dr Howe said cats were a problem ‘‘but we can’t do much about it’’.

Cr Laurie Coghlan was concerned the council did not have power to stop cats roaming. ‘‘It will be interesting to see if we can get any more empowerment laws,’’ he said.

 The report said pests ‘‘contribute to land degradation and result in severe environmental impact on flora and fauna, soils, watercourses, wetlands and the agricultural sector’’. Pests were ‘‘a reservoir and vector of diseases impacting native fauna, domestic pets, stock and humans’’.

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