HELEN Leake used to lie awake at night listening to distraught cattle bellowing as wild dogs attacked their calves.
The frustration led her to train as a trapper and the results proudly hang from the rafters in a shed near the house.
Most of the 112 dogs that have been caught on the 3844 hectare property at Raglan, near Dungog, NSW, since 2009 have been skinned and displayed in the shed.
Ms Leake and her family bait and trap on the property 11 months of the year. Fifteen dogs have been caught since April.
The dogs are usually black and tan and she suspects they have some dingo in them, but are probably crossed with a domestic breed.
Wild dogs are classified as pests in NSW and include feral dogs, dingoes, hybrids, and any dog living in the wild. Dingoes can be culled on a property as long as the government has not identified it as a safe zone.
Ms Leake said it was vital that landholders “monitored and controlled the problem” and urged other property owners to follow her lead.
“Dogs don’t stay within the boundary lines, so a large control area is the best way to tackle it and every landholder is responsible for wild dog control on their property,” she said.
“The dogs can attack at any time of the year, especially in breeding and calving season.
“There’s a lot of dogs around on other properties at the moment, more so than here, and I think they’ve seen their mates die, so they are skipping around us at the moment, but they will be back.”
Ms Leake now helps the Local Land Service (LLS), Catchment Management Authority and Department of Primary Industries train landholders to trap with professional trapper Kevin Ford.
There has been an increase in demand for classes as landholders across the Hunter battle with wild dogs.
The Newcastle Herald reported on the plight of landholders in the Upper Hunter and west of Branxton last year who were losing hundreds of sheep.
The Hunter LLS has since executed a massive ground baiting operation on affected properties across the region.
Ms Leake said landholders, who did ground baiting and trapping, had more success in culling the dogs. But she warned that the traps must be laid properly, otherwise it would cause more problems.
The use of surveillance cameras has given her a rare insight into what is lurking about after dark, and more landholders are using them. The information tells them where to put the soft-jaw traps.
Visit your regional Targeting Wild Dogs page:
NSW: www.theland.com.au/wild_dogs WA: www.farmweekly.com.au/wild_dogs VIC: www.stockandland.com.au/wild_dogs SA: www.stockjournal.com.au/wild_dogs QLD: www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/wild_dogs NQ: www.northqueenslandregister.com.au/wild_dogs