AWI funds dog control

13 May, 2013 02:00 AM

AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation has sunk another $1 million into its wild dog control program after stage one produced encouraging results.

Applications from landholder groups are now being sought for the second stage of funding of the Community Wild Dog Control Initiative which started in 2011 with $1 million from AWI.

AWI research and development general manager, Dr Jane Littlejohn, said wild dogs were the single biggest factor holding back wool production in Australia, hence AWI was keen to assist groups develop long term solutions.

"The latest research has shown how large and widespread the will dog problem is in Australia. The pastoral zone of Australia has been home to some of Australia's largest sheep flocks but is in serious danger from wild dog attacks.

"Almost every alpine region also faces a similar problem and this is why AWI has committed vital resources to help communities protect their flocks," she said.

Stage one of the program achieved control programs across 1.3 million square kilometres of country in every mainland State through 50 wild dog control groups.

A survey of 259 participants revealed how:

  • 41pc intended to reintroduce sheep;
  • 71pc noticed an increase in native animals;
  • 68pc intended to increase sheep numbers;
  • 94pc reported better wellbeing as a result of participating.
  • Dr Littlejohn said both new and existing control groups were encouraged to apply for funding.

    She said funding was available to groups for baiting, refrigeration to keep fresh meat for baiting, wild doggers and aerial baiting programs, the purchase of traps, helicopter and plane hire for mapping, trapper training, trappers, awareness days, and wild dog group co-ordination.

    Groups were advised to assess their situation strategically and co-ordinate their action plan with other community groups such as Landcare for the benefit of all stakeholders.

    Dr Littlejohn said one Queensland group had trapped 150 dogs since joining the program.

    "We want communities to become involved and take ownership of the problem because the dogs are everyone's problem," she said.

    While there had been a resurgence of wild dog fencing in Queensland and Victoria, AWI would not fund fencing.

    "We want to focus on trapping and baiting the wild dogs to stop the breeding cycle," Dr Littejohn said.

    Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia had been strong supporters of wild dog control programs but there had been a slower uptake in NSW particularly in the Western Division.

    "We are seeing dogs moving down from Queensland and it is becoming a greater problem in the NSW Western Division, so we really encourage landholders in those regions to use this funding to stay on top of the problem," she said.

    She said applications were a straightforward questionnaire regarding size of the region to be controlled, density of sheep population in the area, tradition of sheep in the area and how dire the wild dog situation was in the area.

    "Ultimately we want people to get back into sheep and stay in sheep and see how they can complement grazing and cropping enterprises," Dr Littlejohn said.

    "We know the funding is a token effort, but we want to reduce the rate of people leaving the industry."

    In south-western Queensland, Peter Lucas of the Paroo Wild Dog Advisory Committee was involved with stage one of the program and said their group used the AWI funding for baiting and trapping.

    "In this shire we have been able to keep numbers relatively low and this funding has helped us cover and protect more country," Mr Lucas said.

    In northern Victoria, Talgarno Wises Creek Landcare Group member, Peter Star, said the AWI funding was used for community baiting programs and had resulted in a marked decrease in wild dog attacks.

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