AS public consultation on the proposed western Queensland wild dog check fence gets down to the pointy end, with a sizeable amount of money needed to bring the idea to reality, graziers in the region have questioned their industry lobby group’s commitment to fencing as a wild dog containment strategy.
They are also scathing of the state government’s pointed refusal to spend any of the windfall $5.6 million from the federal government on hard infrastructure.
A recent meeting of Barcaldine’s AgForce branch resolved to question head office on what was described as a “deafening silence” on the push for fencing to manage the systemic killing by wild dogs.
According to branch president Genevieve Counsell, the sentiment of her members was that predator fencing hadn’t been given adequate priority or support in AgForce’s Brisbane headquarters.
“Members are saying they need industry leaders to come to the central west and view firsthand the need for fencing,” she said.
“It’s the same with the Sheep CRC and AWI – there’s an absence of any infrastructure levy idea.
“The branch understands the money won’t pay to construct anything but it could be used for a range of associated ideas.
“In our shire, there’s a lot of fencing. It would be good to know what is doing the best job, and how much each one costs.
“Our branch feels the economic argument is strong enough for fencing to be supported.
“It’s the same thing with the message that the federal funding – I understand Barcaldine is earmarked for $140,000 – is not to be used for infrastructure.
“The message coming through strongly from members is that we need to see more spent on fencing.”
AgForce CEO Charles Burke responded that while fencing has been demonstrated to be a proven management method for wild dogs, it is costly, requires ongoing funding for maintenance and does not replace all other forms of control.
While endorsing the effectiveness of fencing used in conjunction with coordinated baiting, constant trapping and shooting, Mr Burke acknowledged that the fence discussion was probably driven in part by producers frustrated that other control methods aren’t delivering the results they need.
“In other areas however, success has been made through coordinated baiting and trapping campaigns and those communities see fencing as costly and ineffective.
“It’s horses for courses. Certainly the diversity across the landscape in terms of what producers are after show that the issue and the people are vastly different, so we need to be cautious of treating any control method as a ‘one size fits all’ approach.”
Mr Burke couldn’t see any reason why government shouldn’t play a role in financially supporting fencing, as it does with baiting, coordination, research and development.
He also saw QRAA as the logical provider of low interest loans for fences for individual producers improving the sustainability of their business.
“For some, a fence may be the best way they can improve the productivity and profitability of their business,” he said.
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