THE KIMBERLEY HERDS.
THE TICK QUESTION.
INTERVIEW WITH THE CHIEF
INSPECTOR OF STOCK.
With the consent of the Commissioner of Crown Lands (Mr. Geo. Throssell) the Chief Inspector of Stock (Mr. Morten Craig), who has just returned from an official visit to the Kimberley district, was interviewed yesterday by a representative of this journal on the object and result of his trip. Mr, Craig, who readily consented to supply our reporter with some particu- lars of his visit, stated that the object the authorities had in view in sending him to the north was, he believed, to make an in- vestigation into the conflicting statements made by different parties as to the pre- sence of the dreaded Queensland tick in the herds of cattle in the Kimberley district. Mr. Craig added - " I left Perth on 30th May and reached Wyndham on 8th June. After inspecting tho cattle in the neighbourhood of Wyndham, I left with Inspector Duff for the interior. On arriv- ing at the Negri River, we received infor-
mation that ticks were still to be found among the Ord River station cattle, and at the same camp where Inspector Duff dis- covered the tick last year. As Inspector Alston, an official we obtained from Queensland was still there, and hearing
that all the Ord River station hands were in the Northern Territory, I hired horses from some travellers to proceed up the Negri. I met the manager of the Ord River station, Mr. Campbell, who was in the Northern Territory collecting the cattle for branding. Mr. Campbell denied the existence of ticks among his herds. I stayed there some days inspecting some thousands of cattle on that river and also on the Stirling River. They appeared to be a particularly healthy lot, and not a sign of tick was to be seen upon them. I then went aoross to the Ord River station and met Mr. Alston there. Up to that time Mr. Alston had failed to discover any ticks. We proceeded to the Lenacre River. That is the spot where ticks were found last year and where ticks were still to bo seen, according to the statement of the head stockman, who had just left the service of the owners of the Ord River station. We, however, examined several mobs of cattle there and failed to find any ticks. As Messrs. Forrest and Emanuel's men were there for the purpose of taking away the fats, which necessitated the mustering of the whole of the cattle on the run, I left Mr. Alston with them, with instructions to accompany the men during the whole of the mustering proceedings. I then left for the Northern Territory, in
order to ascertain how close to the border ticks could be found in the Northern Terri- tory cattle. I spent some days inspecting the cattle on the Auvergne station, of which Mr. P B. Durack is part owner. I examined east and west and other portions of the run, and was unable to detect the slightest sign of tick. The cattle appeared healthy. I may here state that the cattle on this station are com-
pletely isolated from all other runs in the Northern Territory, and the cattle cannot communicate with any others. But as it was not denied that ticks were plentiful on the Victoria Downs station, in the North- ern Territory, between Auvergne and Wave Hill - which is situate about 100 miles from the W.A border - I concluded that that was the nearest point to our border at which ticks were known to exist. On my return to the Kimberley district I met Mr. Alston, according to appointment, and he informed me that he had found ticks on one beast only out of a muster of about 26,000 head of cattle. The beast was shot, and nine ticks in all were found. These
Mr. Alston produced in a bottle con- taining methylated spirits, which I have brought to Perth and handed to Mr. Helms, the entomologist of the Bureau of Agriculture, who has identified the ticks as the Queensland variety. Mr. Alston is still engaged in inspecting the cattle on other runs as the mustering for branding is progressing. He has had vast experience in connection with tick in Queensland, and was a cattle owner and suffered severe losses from the tick pest. He has also expressed the opinion that the Ord River country is not favourably situated for the propogation of ticks, as the country is too open and exposod to the sun. Of course, Mr. Alston placed the cattle on the Western Australian portion of the Ord River station in quarantine."
" Will this action have any effect in stopping the supply of meat ?"
" The market will be unaffected, inas- much as the whole of the fat stock - with the exception of a few on the Ord River are exhausted. There has been such a rain upon them of late that all the fats have been sold, and owing to this heavy drain the herds of the district need a spell for a year or so. I may add that during my stay there several people expressed the wish to obtain breeding cattle from the Northern Territory where they had been offered at ?1 per head. Of course they cannot do that now because of the prohibi- tion of the importation of cattle from the Territory. On the other hand some of the Station owners who have placed breeding cattle under offer at 60s. per head, protest against the removal of this prohibition."
"The Ord River cattle are still in quarantine ?"
'' Yes, they are still in quarantine, but Ï Fail to see what practical effect the quaran- tining of this herd will have in preventing the spread of tick in the district, owing to the daily intermixture of the cattle with other cattle across the border in the
Northern Territory, and belonging to the same owner, and also with other cattle belonging to the owners of adjoining runs. At the present time the border is not clearly defined. So far as I know it, it is only an imaginary line, and until it is defined, and until that portion of it on which Stock depasture is fenced, no satisfactory arrangements can be made for dealing
with the cattle on runs which are situate partly in one colony and partly in the adjoining colony."
" If a man owns a station across the border, as well as the portion of this colony adjoining on to that station, should he not pay the duty on all cattle admitted from the Northern Territory portion of the
"He should do so. The prohibition against the admission of Northern Terri- tory cattle, however, is impracticable, and such owners under existing conditions can, if they choose, stock up their runs right up to the borders of Western Aus- tralia, with cattle from the most notori- ously tick infested neighbourhood of South
"Withrespeet to the question of duty are your inspectors supposed to prohibit these cattle coming in?"
"Yes ; they do. We have one inspector on the border, and another will be there shortly. We shall then have one at Ord and another at Newry - Connor and Doherty's station. There are 900 cattle now from Wave Hill, waiting to be ad-
What about the natives, Mr. Craig ?
" The natives are very troublesome in- deed, and cause considerable havoc amongst the cattle, not so much by reason of what they kill, as by causing them to lose condi- tion by perpetually chasing them. The
natives are numerous, and whites have to go about armed. In the neighbourhood of the Avergne station, they are particularly savage, and frequently attempt to spear the whites. The natives in the employ of the station are particularly well treated."
And what appearance did the country present when you were there ?
" I was very favourably impressed with some of the runs, especially the country of the Ord River station. Great care and at- tention had evidently been paid to the cattle on the Argyle station, which belongs to Messrs. Durack Bros. The settlers also manifested every willingness to facilitate my investigations, lent me what horses I needed, and placed their men at my dispo-
sal for the mustering of the cattle as I re- quired."
Is the country overstocked or under stocked ?
"There is plenty of rich country there, and it would be improved considerably if it were more heavily stocked. The demand for cattle has given quite an impetus to the
trade, and the people are most anxious to stock up those portions of the runs which
are now unstocked."
How do you account for the tick making its appearance in the Kimberley district ?
"The whole of the Kimberley district was originally stocked from. Queensland, and all the herds passed across the Northern Territory of South Australia, heavy losses occurring in most of the herds from redwater or tick fever. But as ticks only adhere to cattle for about 21 days they were not, in my opinion, brought on the cattle, and I can only assume that the ticks were brought to the Kimberly dis- trict on horses during the goldfield rush."