Pastoralists take wild dog fight online

29 Jun, 2012 02:00 AM

PASTORALISTS and farmers across WA are joining together and taking the fight against wild dogs online.

A Wild Dog Control Facebook group has been established with the aim of helping to close the divide between those affected.

Started in early 2010, the group now boasts 828 members mainly from WA but also from other parts of Australia and even gets some international interest.

Founder of the site, Belinda Grinham said she established the group because of the sheer frustration pastoralists faced in trying to deal with the issue alone.

Growing up 110 kilometres north of Yalgoo on Meka station and jillarooing throughout the area, Ms Grinham said she wanted to try and raise the general public's awareness of the wild dog issue.

"Most people don't really grasp the impact wild dogs have on pastoral properties," Ms Grinham said.

"Especially those that live in the city.

"They have no idea what wild dogs can do, or how hard the issue is to deal with physically and emotionally."

Ms Grinham said the group had been a real success, allowing members to post photos of their own wild dog problems and discuss the issues.

Members were also able to talk management and dogging tactics and discuss any general concerns, along with receiving State Government updates surrounding the wild dog issue.

Station owner Will Scott, Mt Magnet, is heavily involved with the group and said its creation was fantastic.

Mr Scott said the wild dog problem was getting worse, not better.

"There are less people involved in the pastoral game with more area to cover, and the government doesn't seem to care," he said.

Mr Scott said the biggest benefit in the creation of the group had been in helping pastoralists realise they were not alone in dealing with the issue.

"If you think you're the only one having the trouble, it's tough to stay positive," he said.

"When you realise it's a problem that's happening all over Australia, it helps you want to fight a bit harder and not give up."

Mr Scott said another benefit the group had, was raising government awareness of the issue, as many government departments were now online.

"It underlines how powerful Facebook is as a medium," he said.

"You don't have to be a member to view the site and I think it's been a wonderful thing in highlighting the wild dog problem.

"While it hasn't solved it, time will tell."

Other than Australian members, the Facebook group has also grabbed international attention, with coyote hunters from America joining the discussion.

Mr Scott said the exchange of ideas surrounding how the American hunters attracted the animals and the types of traps they used, would never have happened without the Facebook group.

"It has helped us stay effective, with relevant and up-to-date techniques on how to catch the dogs," he said.

Ms Grinham's father and pastoralist Bob Grinham said the Facebook group had helped created more of a community to get the information surrounding wild dogs out in the public arena.

"Sharing our experience with other pastoralists has created drive," he said.

"You're fighting a losing battle as an individual, so the Facebook group has unified a lot of people."

Growing Damara and Dorper cross sheep, he said wild dogs had a huge impact on his business, affecting lambing percentages and older sheep numbers.

"The situation in the area is at crisis point, with dog tracks everywhere compared to 12 months ago," he said.

"We went from baiting twice a year, four years ago to now baiting four or five times a year."

Mr Grinham said the recent increase in the dogs coming from the north was due to displaced dogs looking for vacant land, because they were so territorial.

To combat the issue Mr Grinham has decided to fence an area that contained 5000 sheep with electric fencing in order to keep the dogs out.

Along with the Facebook group he praised the work being done by the Meekatharra biosecurity group, in putting together a proposal to get a dog exclusion fence to join the existing number two rabbit proof fence and cross the emu barrier fence.

"Both have been really instrumental in helping to do something about the wild dogs in the area," he said.

p To view the Wild Dog Facebook page go to!/groups /107883725898456/



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