Graziers join fight as dogs march south

30 May, 2014 02:00 AM
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GUN TRAPPER: Alan Ireland, Narinna Station, demonstrates trap setting at the Orroroo wild dog workshop last Wednesday.
GUN TRAPPER: Alan Ireland, Narinna Station, demonstrates trap setting at the Orroroo wild dog workshop last Wednesday.

ONE producer saw 83 dogs over 10 days while out checking waters.

Another shot 35 between the dog fence and their homestead - a 15 kilometre span - while one pastoralist watched as their flock was decimated from 4500 to "just a few hundred".

These were just some of the stories told at wild dog workshops held at Hawker and Orroroo last week.

Hosted by the Upper North Natural Resource Management Group, the workshops aimed to increase awareness and encourage landholders to work cooperatively to combat the pests following reports of dog sightings around Hawker and south of Orroroo.

Invasive Animals CRC national wild dog facilitator Greg Mifsud, who travelled from Toowoomba, Qld, to discuss the impacts and management of dogs, said quite often, farmers had dogs in their vicinity but weren't even aware of it.

"If producers aren't familiar with the signs of activity, they're not aware of what to look for," he said.

"They make the assumption they're not affected, but the guy next door might be seeing them."

Mr Mifsud said the hybridisation of wild dogs - from traditional dingoes - had changed the behaviour and characterisation of the pests.

Research showed that wild dogs had cost the Qld grazing industry $67 million, including $22.8m in calf losses and $16.9m in sheep/goat losses and attacks.

They also had major impacts on biodiversity, with one survey area in Qld recording an 80 per cent decline in the koala population between 2002 and 2009.

By conducting the workshops, Mr Mifsud said he hoped they would be preempting the problem.

"It's all about risk management, we can get in and inform these guys about how to work cooperatively to manage those dogs before they become a problem," he said.

"At the moment they're (dogs) potentially just moving through occasionally, but if landholders can get themselves organised it might prevent them getting established."

The biggest challenges facing dog control included getting landholders to work cooperatively, Mr Mifsud said.

"You get breakdowns in areas where there's numerous non-production properties in amongst grazing properties, where they have different objectives," he said.

"The difference here is everyone has a common goal and there seems to be a good community spirit, so we need to keep people involved."

Effective wild dog control essentially came back to landholders driving programs in "their own patch", he said, and integrating these to have noticeable impacts.

"That will have major benefits for their fox management as well as hopefully preventing dogs from getting established here.

"It doesn't have to be a big exercise - people can build in control programs as part of their daily routine."

* Full report in Stock Journal, May 29, 2014 issue.

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    Carla Wiese-Smith

    Carla Wiese-Smith

    is a journalist for Fairfax Media

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