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Feral invasion prompt camel cull -

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Feral invasion prompt camel cull

Sara Everingham reported this story on Thursday, November 26, 2009 12:52:00

ELEANOR HALL: The Northern Territory Government has declared the outback community of Docker River
to be under siege from thousands of feral camels.

And it has now launched a cull in an attempt to deal with the emergency.

A multi-million dollar federal programme was meant to have brought the animals under control.

But some experts estimate that there are now more than a million feral camels roaming the
Australian outback, as Sara Everingham reports.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In the Indigenous community of Docker River, 500 kilometres south-west of Alice
Springs, it's common to see feral camels, just not this many.

The Northern Territory Government has released amateur vision showing hundreds of camels close to
the community. They're in search of water and are invading peoples' homes to find it

The Territory's Local Government Minister Rob Knight.

ROB KNIGHT: The community of Docker River is under siege by 6,000 marauding wild camels. They are
intruding on the private properties of residences, they are damaging infrastructure, they have
knocked down fencing at the air strip.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The Northern Territory Government is spending $50,000 on a cull of the 6,000
camels at Docker River in the next week.

The chief executive of the local shire Graham Taylor says the situation is dire because there are
fears children in Docker River could be injured by the camels and that the animals are putting
peoples' health at risk.

GRAHAM TAYLOR: I think the word "under siege" was a good word because it talks about people being
stuck in their homes and looking out and seeing just numerous numbers of camels at your front door.

And if they get anxious and they want more water and stick their head through the window I suppose
we've then got another problem. So they're still chasing the water.

SARA EVERINGHAM: It's estimated there are more than a million camels in outback Australia.
Pastoralists in the north are fed up with the damage being caused to their stations.

Luke Bowen is the chief executive of the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association.

LUKE BOWEN: It's been something that has been too hard to deal with, it's been duck shoved around
form state to state and nobody has been able to stand up and cooperatively, collectively do
anything about it.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In August the Federal Government announced a $19 million grant for camel control
to go to the corporate arm of the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre.

But the company is yet to receive the money because the contract is still under negotiation.

Luke Bowen says bureaucracy is getting in the way.

LUKE BOWEN: Solving this problem is a bit like I guess the committee that designed the camel. In
order to get it to work there's a cast of thousands that have been drawn into it. As a pastoral
industry we are watching very carefully to ensure that our problems are not ignored.

And that we're not going to see more studies, more consultation but no action. We have to have
action, we have to have it now.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But the head of the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre, Jan Ferguson,
says preparing a camel control program in four states takes time.

She says consultation is essential.

JAN FERGUSON: You can't start a project without a contract. You can't start a project without a
plan and we're in the process of doing that. It's not a very long time at all since all of this was
negotiated and we'll work through it and we'll have a thorough plan.

SARA EVERINGHAM: And Jan Ferguson says even with the $19 million program in place, other measures
to control feral camels will still be needed.

ELEANOR HALL: North Australia correspondent Sara Everingham reporting.