Wild dog attacks challenge response and planning

Wild dog attacks are a challenge needing multi faceted responses


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DOG IMPACT: Boorolite livestock producer Steve Marshall says wild dogs have had a big impact on his sheep operation. Photos by Shaye Hughes.

DOG IMPACT: Boorolite livestock producer Steve Marshall says wild dogs have had a big impact on his sheep operation. Photos by Shaye Hughes.

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Aerial baiting to control wild dogs needs to be ramped up.

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All those involved in wild dog control know that it is a long game - there is no silver bullet.

A number of factors contribute to wild dog presence on private properties, but current dry conditions, and potentially bushfires in some areas, are seeing a large, almost unmanageable amount of wild dogs, and the animals they prey on, seeking water from private dams and troughs.

It is pushing producers, particularly those in the high country areas in Gippsland and the north-east of the state, to breaking point.

Victorian Farmers Federation wild dog spokesman Peter Star said the top of his wish list was that aerial baiting be ramped up.

"Some aerial baiting has been done with some success," Mr Star said.

Without 1080 we are stuffed. - Peter Star, VFF Wild Dog spokesman

Mr Star, who is the Victorian representative on the National Wild Dog Action Plan Coordination Committee, said interaction between states also assisted in working through the issues.

"The national approach helps break down barriers between states, why can one state do something and another not?" he said.

Mr Star said there were good wild dog controllers out in the field as well as Australian Wool Innovation-funded community baiting programs.

He said the general public also needed to be aware that it was not only livestock that were being attacked by wild dogs.

He said dogs impacted severely on any ground borne biodiversity in the bush.

The ongoing battle to retain the use of "the only viable" poison, 1080, was a big issue.

"Without 1080 we are stuffed," he said.

The current mating season may also see dogs become more active and cover greater distances, Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) Wild Dog Program manager Tim Enshaw said.

DELWP had implemented a number of measures to reduce the presence and impact of wild dogs.

Mr Enshaw said those had the greatest impact when complemented by efforts of adjacent landholders.

"We use a number of methods, including baiting, tracking, trapping and shooting on public land, as well as supporting landholders with appropriate on-farm measures such as exclusion fencing, good animal husbandry practices, guardian animals, shooting and baiting," he said.

He urged landholders in areas impacted by wild dogs to participate in Wild Dog Zone Management groups to best coordinate efforts across public and private property, and to utilise the latest information and technology at hand.

DELWP recently held 15 Wild Dog Zone Management workshops across Victoria that focused on local wild dog controllers, activity captured on their trail cameras, information about current management techniques for control and discussions on what worked well and what improvements were needed for future management plans for those areas.

Mr Enshaw said landholders who saw wild dogs, lost livestock or noticed tracks or other indications that wild dogs have been on your property, should report the incident to DELWP.

Wild Dog Control Advisory Committee member Michael McCormack emphasised the importance of baiting as part of the armory for control of wild dogs.

Mr McCormack said baiting in the buffer zone within public land was proactive.

"Baiting to try to maintain a buffer between livestock and wild dogs has been good," he said.

He said the research done in NSW by Peter Fleming and Guy Ballard on aerial baiting was critical.

Research trials were conducted using rates of 40 baits per lineal kilometre and 10 baits/km.

The research showed that 90.6 per cent of collared wild dogs exposed to 40 baits/km died, and 55.3pc of those exposed to 10 baits/km died.

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