- "Shooting in the head". Anyone shooting any animal from a helicopter in Australia requires annual accreditation and to have undertook one of three highly intensive training programs. I doubt there are more than a few dozen people suitably qualified and accredited. The standard operating procedure for aerial shooting of camels leaves the choice of shot to the marksman, but a camel's head is actually held quite steady while moving. A second bullet must also be placed in the animal (so normally a head shot and a chest shot, or two chest shots), and the helicopter must not move on before ensuring death of the animal. Camels are generally not in large groups, but if they are, the operating procedure requires small groups to be split off before shooting commences.
- All this does sound brutal, but these animals are roaming a huge area - about 13 United Kingdoms, six Frances or 5 Texases (Texas's? - what's the plural of Texas?). We have to be practical.
- The barrier to developing a camel industry is the lack of a large enough market, not a lack of will or of trying. There is some small economic activity associated with camels. If it was possible to make money from them, we wouldn't have a problem. They are edible and some people say it's a nice meat - my own experience in an Adelaide Moroccan restaurant was that it was like eating a ball of spiced string.
- Mustering animals across such large, dry areas is a major problem in itself. Supplying the animals with water would be a logistics nightmare if they were gathered together for relocation or transport.
- Birth control is not viable. Our research group tried for many years, and we continue to do so (we are actively researching sterilants for rats, kangaroos, wallabies) but none are suitable yet. The cost would be much higher than lethal methods and at the moment the budget available is less than $30 per animal. To control the numbers required, the managers of the program will need to be extremely efficient.
Posted by Tony Peacock, founder of 'Feral Thoughts'