EXCLUSIVE: VICTORIA'S bid to aerial bait wild dogs with 1080 could be scuttled by federal law.
The State Government's move to aerial bait in the North-East and Gippsland by May has been blocked by the same Act that has pushed cattle out of the high country.
The Coalition promised as part of its 2010 election campaign to introduce "aerial baiting in remote and inaccessible areas".
But a baiting application, submitted under the Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, has stumbled at the first hurdle.
According to the Victorian Government, the federal Environment Department sent the application back with a demand for further research information.
A Federal Government spokeswoman said the major concern was a potential significant impact on quolls.
"The proposal has not been rejected, but is required to go through an assessment and approval process," she said.
The decision to send back the application was made by the department, not Environment Minister Tony Burke, and was now waiting for more information from Victoria before it could proceed, she said.
The delay comes despite aerial baiting occurring in NSW and Queensland.
Victorian farmers and the State Government said they were "very frustrated" with the Federal Government's decision.
National Wild Dogs Management Advisory Group chairman Michael McCormack said they feared the Federal Government could block the program indefinitely.
"We see this as like the mountain cattlemen's issue: they will put it off until we get sick of trying and go away," Mr McCormack said.
"It can be done in NSW and Queensland so why not here?"
Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said he was "extremely frustrated" at the Federal Government because he believed the initial application "was sound".
He admitted it was now unlikely baiting would begin in May.
"We're getting to the point that it is too late to get ... the program started," he said.
"The first application was rejected (and) getting the information from the Commonwealth on how best to re-submit it has been difficult."
The Coalition's policy was based on research done interstate, where aerial baiting had been conducted for many years, Mr Walsh said.
The application would be resubmitted.