Dog squad needs full support

The impact wild dogs have ... must be understood by the whole community for this program's success

THE yet-to-be-formed wild dog implementation committee has a big job ahead: a nine-month deadline, a $280,000 budget and a dog problem stretching across the breadth of the country.

Neglected dog fences, a decimated Queensland sheep industry and a widespread, established population of wild dogs await the committee's best efforts.

The small starting price tag of $280,000 is nothing compared with the millions in lost production from regional Australia through the years due to destruction of stock by wild dogs.

And it is a whimper compared with the financial support that will be necessary for lasting success. With such a large area to cover, this once-controlled pest - these days not just dingoes, but all sorts of mongrel - is going to take a lot of time, money and manpower to manage.

While it's starting on a good footing, the impact wild dogs have on livestock, the environment and communities must be well understood by the whole community for this program's ongoing support.

An education component could therefore play a role.

It is promising to see motions such as those put forward by the NSW Farmers Cooma District Council at this year's NSW Farmers annual conference, which aim to not just back the new National Wild Dog Plan, but to push for the development of positions and training for skilled personnel in the handling of wild dogs.

On-the-ground manpower with the ability for a fast, targeted response will help take advantage of new technologies.

While this will provide some direct job creation, the flow-on from the control of one of the major restraints impacting the prosperity of many regions is potentially huge.

In some instances, the impact of wild dogs is worse than drought.

However, if the program is to work, it needs individuals working together.

Woolproducers has done what nobody else had so far managed - it has pulled together the many groups of frustrated landholders who had been working in isolation.

The science, such as better dog baits and better ways of recognising and targeting dogs, will be significantly useful.

But only if people and their communities get behind the effort.

TheLand
Andrew Norris

Andrew Norris

is the editor of The Land
A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.

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