A NATIONAL plan to tackle wild dogs will be officially launched today in Armidale, NSW, bringing best practice wild dog control measures to all parts of Australia.
Just over 12 months after work began in earnest on the initiative, federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce will launch the National Wild Dog Action Plan at the University of New England’s woolshed.
The Plan’s extensive consultation process was kickstarted in February 2013 by WoolProducers Australia (WPA), and now has the support of all Agriculture Ministers at a State and federal government level.
National Wild Dog co-ordinator Greg Mifsud, who has been working on the project since the beginning, said the Plan would ensure everyone across Australia was co-operating and working collectively to ensure long-term outcomes.
“It ensures all of the good work, which is already happening out there, continues and that those successful outcomes are ongoing,” he said.
“Without this sort of a document there could easily be changes made to the way in which each different State approaches their wild dog control, which would cause a loss of effectiveness of any control measures.
“The whole point is to ensure everyone is on the same page.”
Mr Mifsud said nationally recognised training programs, an important feature of the plan, would attract more professional pest controllers and wild dog trappers.
“At present we have individual courses in each State but they are not linked up, so a qualified person in WA may not legally be allowed to work in South Australia for instance,” he said.
In terms on impacts on localised, grass-roots pest control groups, Mr Mifsud said the action plan would guarantee the same best practice information was available to all groups across Australia.
“This was never intended to be an on-ground operational document, rather the objective was to ensure long-term support to those groups and those individuals already undertaking control programs,” he said.
“It means we can all work collectively to manage this problem instead of operating on our own.”
WPA first released a draft of the plan in September 2013, and in May this year, WPA and other stakeholders met in Brisbane to lock down practical implementation of the Plan’s key points.
WPA’s goal of “facilitating a nationally co-ordinated approach” on the wild dog problem has resulted in a plan which the group hopes could also be adapted for other pest management programs.
The Plan’s four main goals are: To provide leadership and co-ordination for the management of wild dogs; To increase awareness, understanding and capacity building with regard to wild dog management; To mitigate the negative impacts caused by wild dogs, and To monitor, evaluate and report to inform and continuously improve wild dog management.
Chair of the Development Committee Jim McKenzie said the Plan was a significant achievement.
“This industry-driven initiative has seen grazing industry peak bodies and governments work collaboratively to develop the Plan in a little over 12 months,” Mr McKenzie said in a statement.
“Wild dogs are a problem shared across much of mainland Australia and the Plan offers a structure and actions to deliver a shared solution.
“The Plan is about building on the good work already being done and identifying ways of ‘doing things smarter’.”
WPA president Geoff Fisken acknowledged the work already being undertaken by landholders in tackling wild dogs.
“There is some really hard work being put in by many producers on the ground and we appreciate that,” Mr Fisken said.
“What this Plan aims to do is make sure that hard work doesn’t go to waste it encourages everyone to get on the same page.”
The development of the Plan has been fully supported by the Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre and many of the Plan’s objectives consolidate the coordinated efforts of the Centre’s wild dog related projects.
A report released in April this year into the impact of wild dogs on Australian agriculture confirmed wild dog predation is a major issue for farmers, with economic, social and environmental costs estimated in the millions.
The report, An integrated assessment of the impact of wild dogs in Australia, prepared by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), 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.
ABARES chief scientist Kim Ritman said the report estimated the costs associated with an increase in wild dog attacks in certain regions over 20 years, should management strategies not be applied.
In south western Queensland, for example, absence of wild dog management strategies could potentially cost the livestock market up to $54 million over 20 years – in an area that represents 23 per cent of the state’s sheep and 4pc of the state’s cattle.