MUCH to the relief of local farms, the Yilgarn Gap in the dog fence has closed.
Completing the half-century-old 170 kilometre gap in the State barrier fence will help wild dog control.
After more than six months of construction, the fence now extends south of Koolyanobbing and east of Southern Cross.
The milestone is part of the five-year, $10.34 million State Barrier Fence project, supported by the government's Royalties for Regions program.
Final work, including installing five stock grids, will be undertaken in coming weeks to complete the historic addition to the fence.
The Eastern Wheatbelt Declared Species Group chairman Cyril Smith said locals were pleased the gap had been closed.
"It will make it easier to control the dogs, but we have to maintain the status-quo and control the numbers,'' Mr Smith said.
"The doggers will continue their work and check the fence condition.
"It is good news for everyone along the fence and in the surrounding areas."
The wild dog control group was formed specifically to assist land managers in the shires of Mt Marshall, Nungarin, Mukinbudin, Westonia, Merredin, Yilgarn, Narembeen, Kondinin, Kulin, and Lake Grace to manage wild dog incursions on farms.
Kulin farmer and group past chairman Jim Sullivan said the fence closure took years and would help keep dogs out of the area.
"It will help our dogger try to keep the numbers at bay,'' Mr Sullivan said.
"I don't think it will take long to get the dogs under control, with that in mind and with the good prices in sheep and wool, farmers in the area can have an alternative to cropping."
Mr Sullivan said the drought had effected farming capacity, and closing the fence meant farmers had new management options.
"We can make use of the feed we do have, and run sheep once again," Mr Sullivan said.
"It will give them the alternatives they haven't been able to utilise.
"It has been a strong interest of ours to see the gap closed, and it is been successful."
WA Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston said the completed fence would help protect productive farmland in the Wheatbelt from wild dogs and emus.
"This is a landmark moment for the historic 112-year-old State Barrier Fence, which runs 1,206km from the Zuytdorp Cliffs north of Kalbarri to east of Ravensthorpe," Mr Baston said.
"I congratulate those involved in this extensive project, which has included a rigorous approvals process, surveying, clearing and site preparation before construction work could get under way.
"Construction over the past five months has involved the installation of 24,600 steel posts, more than 600 strainer assemblies, 170km of plain wire, and fabricated fence installed to a height of 1.4 metres. Lapwire has been clipped to the bottom of the fence to create the required barrier to minimise incursions by emus and wild dogs."
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said about $3.5m of Royalties for Regions funding was allocated to closing the Yilgarn Gap, which ran through Yilgarn shire, east of Southern Cross.
"Planning for the proposed southern extension to the fence is well advanced in preparation for the approval processes,'' Mr Redman said.
"This is intended to extend from Ravensthorpe to east of Esperance."