THE Victorian Coalition's failure to cost a key election promise on aerial baiting of wild dogs has led to a 5000ha trial.
The Coalition's election policy document on agriculture promised to deliver $4 million for a fox and dog bounty, but failed to put one dollar towards an aerial baiting program.
The mistake left Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh flat-footed in the race to get aerial baiting off the ground, given Treasurer Kim Wells's edict that his first Budget would deliver only "costed" election promises.
The Weekly Times understands the decision forced Mr Walsh to delay conducting aerial baiting until next May and downsize the program to just 5000ha.
Government sources said Mr Walsh ordered the Department of Primary Industries to scrape together the $460,000 for next year's aerial baiting plan.
Victorian Farmers Federation North East district councillor Michael McCormack said farmers questioned the Government on the lack of funding for aerial baiting when the Budget was released.
"We were told 'trust us, it's there'," Mr McCormack said.
"It's a shame we're spending $4 million on the bounty. It's a waste.
"We'd get more for our budget if we used it (the bounty fund) for baiting."
But Mr Walsh said none of the bounty money would be diverted into baiting.
He said the 5000ha aerial baiting program was not simply a trial and effectively covered a large area.
Baits would be spread along the boundaries of Crown land and ridge lines to maximise their impact.
As for the delay, Mr Walsh said the Department of Sustainability and Environment had to first survey native fauna in the areas to be baited to determine the impacts of baiting.
He said the surveys should reinforce research from NSW that showed baiting reduced wild dog populations and had a positive impact on native quoll populations.
The Government has allocated $1 million a year for four years to the bounty scheme. It will pay $10 a fox and $50 for each wild dog shot or trapped from October 1.
The Government is yet to detail whether the whole or part of each dog and fox will have to be presented to obtain the bounty.