THE future of the National Wild Dog Action Plan has been secured for another two years following an injection of $1.35 million from the federal government.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and Member for Eden-Monaro, Dr Peter Hendy, announced the funding in Michelago, New South Wales, last Friday, stating it would provide continuity and certainty of the roll-out of the action plan long term, as well as a lever for attracting co-investment dollars from industry and other governments.
Last year the federal government provided $280,000 start-up funding towards the action plan, which funded a number of outcomes including the updated PestSmart Connect National Wild Dog Action Plan online portal, launched earlier last week.
It's estimated wild dogs cost Australia's agricultural sector up to $66m annually through livestock losses, disease transmission and control costs.
"The additional $1.35 million will ensure national co-ordination and on-the-ground methodologies for wild dog management are accessible, reliable and available, and are used to the greatest effect possible. It will also deliver support projects and will strengthen the on-ground work that is already being pursued," Dr Hendy said.
Invasive Animals CRC national wild dog facilitator, Greg Mifsud, said the $1.35m would be directed specifically for the delivery of the National Wild Dog Action Plan and landholders shouldn't expect to see it used for on-ground projects.
"The money will be going to that higher level document which provides the national oversight and direction of strategic wild dog control," he said.
Mr Mifsud there was a range of objectives of the action plan with many focused on ensuring the programs that have been developed were protected into the future and provided ongoing support for communities so they could deliver effective control.
Objectives included maintaining access to 1080 baits; improving best practice techniques; and looking at better control programs across borders.
"It's really about making sure all the processes are in place at a higher level that will facilitate on ground management," Mr Mifsud said.
He said the action plan now had commitment from federal and State agencies, as well as local stakeholders, peak industry councils and research and development bodies.
"The programs will now become landscape-focused rather than State or local focused."
A national concern
According to Mr Mifsud, a major benefit of the Action Plan was wild dogs were now recognised as a pest of national concern.
"We have been struggling for acceptance of that for the eight years that I have been in this job, and a consequence of the recognition we now have access to greater levels of external funding," Mr Mifsud said.
"It will also assist to get additional funds for wild dog control on the ground as well."
He said landholders would not see a direct impact on the ground at the farmgate from this latest funding announcement.
"The reality is that it sets the precedent and direction for investment down the track."
Mr Mifsud said there had been big wins in the fight against wild dogs with a major baiting program in western NSW recently completed on over 300 properties over a six-week period.
"That was close to 42 per cent of the State covered and it was also linked with the baiting program in Queensland," he said.
"Shires from the south of the Gulf in Queensland to the south of Broken Hill in western NSW have all completed baiting programs recently."
Wild dog awareness days were also being held in regions where dogs had been sighted, but were not yet a major problem.
Mr Mifsud said one the objectives now for Invasive Animals CRC, with the new funding, was to catalogue the number of wild dog groups and where they were situated.
"It will also help us to prioritise where we have control gaps and where we need to start investing some more time and energy," he said.
WoolProducers Australia (WPA), which initiated the National Wild Dog Action Plan in 2013 before it was handed to Invasive Animals CRC to implement, welcomed the funding announcement.
"To get the plan properly implemented we needed more time and more money to make sure things were put in place, and this new funding is seen as the final payment from the federal government for the plan. Because in two years if this plan can't stand on its own two legs then it won't continue," WPA chief-executive-officer Jo Hall said.
Ms Hall said ultimately the action plan was about ensuring there was a nationwide strategic approach to coordinated wild dog control.
"The action plan was never about trying to increase dead dog numbers," she said.