FEDERAL Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says he has a “sense of cynicism” about protestations from animal rights groups over animal cruelty, due to their seeming lack of concern over the “brutalisation” of livestock by wild dogs.
Minister Joyce's comments coincided with the release this week of a new report which highlights the devastation wild dogs wreak on livestock, farmers and rural Australia.
As previously reported by FarmOnline, the report, An integrated assessment of the impact of wild dogs in Australia, by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) confirms wild dogs are a major issue for farmers with economic, social and environmental costs estimated in the millions.
The report examined three case study areas - in south western Queensland, eastern Victoria and South Australia arid lands – and looked at both the market and non-market impacts of wild dogs.
“The fact that wild dogs are running around eating the kidneys out of sheep and leaving them alive until they die of another disease, doesn’t seem to concern them (animal rights groups),” Minister Joyce told Fairfax Agricultural Media.
“Never once have I seen them say, ‘we’ll come out into the paddock with you and we’ll start treating some sheep’.
“They’re not interested in doing that, or saying, ‘we’ll go out and track down some wild dogs and shoot them for you because we know they’re brutalising animals and also brutalising native wild life’.
“You will not have a koala population if you have excessive wild dogs or a wombat population (and) you won’t have any ground birds either.
“But they don’t care about that. Why? Because that would mean they’d actually have to put their money where their mouth is and actually move in that direction.
“But they don’t want to do that - they just want to sit back in Paddington and profess their concern, over their third cappuccino.”
Minister Joyce said more action was needed to control wild dogs because the brutalisation they caused other animals was real.
“I know farmers are frustrated by wild dog attacks, and it’s not just the monetary costs associated with them - it’s also about protecting the livestock which they have put their heart and soul into nurturing and raising,” he said.
“Even the ongoing threat of attack drives farmers to despair and makes them feel helpless in protecting their land that they—and generations before them—have worked hard to farm.
“We know that strong leadership and a coordinated on-the-ground effort is required.”
RSPCA Australia said it recognised wild dogs can cause substantial suffering to livestock when they kill or injure sheep, calves or other young animals.
RSPCA said wild dogs are the subject of a number of control programs around Australia because of their potential to cause environmental and agricultural damage.
“The RSPCA supports a nationally coordinated approach to wild dog control and has been involved in the development of the National Wild Dog Action Plan,” a statement said.
“The RSPCA strongly supports research to develop more humane and effective methods to control wild dogs.”
Animals Australia - which describes itself as the nation’s “foremost national animal protection organisation, representing some 40 member societies and thousands of individual supporters” - was contacted but did not respond before deadline.
Minister Joyce said the challenge facing government was to implement policies and programs that support coordinated wild dog management but in a way that doesn’t compromise investments that farmers have already made in local wild dog control.
He said the Coalition recognised the seriousness of the problem for many farming communities and had provided $10 million for pest management – including wild dogs – as part of the drought package to assist affected farmers.