THE WA Government has launched a trial which will see a $100 bounty put on the scalps of wild dogs.
The trial was announced last Tuesday by Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston at Challa station, Mount Magnet.
It will target an 88,000 square kilometre region in the Murchison and will encompass more than 50 stations.
Mr Baston said the State Government would commit $75,000 towards the trial.
“This is an important initiative to protect livestock in this area, where wild dogs have reached unprecedented levels,” Mr Baston said.
“They not only kill and mutilate sheep but are growing bold enough to take on young cattle.
“The damage done to livestock by wild dogs is absolutely horrific.
“There have been calls from some pastoral and agricultural areas for a bounty to be paid to boost efforts to reduce wild dog numbers and I’m responding with a trial aimed at testing the value of a bounty system in WA.”
Mr Baston said $50,000 of the funds would be allocated to the payment bounty with the remainder covering administration, monitoring and a review of the trial’s success.
The trial is set to be run by the Meekatharra Rangelands Biosecurity Association (MRBA) under contract arrangements with the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA).
Mr Baston said only pastoralists would be able to claim bounty payments, but they could provide permission to external parties to kill wild dogs on their properties and pay them privately.
MRBA chairman and Mount Magnet shire president Ashley Dowden, Challa station, was hugely supportive of the bounty trial.
He said pastoralists needed all the help they could get and a bounty was another tool in the fight against wild dogs.
“A bounty isn’t the be-all and end-all, but it is another tool pastoralists can use,” Mr Dowden said.
“At the moment any spare minute a pastoralist gets, which should be spent at home with the family, is spent out baiting and trapping dogs.
“A bounty will allow us to engage the help of someone we trust to do the job and we can pay them properly for it.
“It will add another tool to the fight and also take the pressure off us.”
Mr Dowden said DAFWA and the MRBA were working together in the trial.
He said the scalps would be handed in to the MRBA at any one of the five baiting racks located throughout the region.
The rack co-ordinators then take and check the scalps to ensure they are legitimate and will authorise the payment to pastoralists.
In addition to supporting the bounty, Mr Dowden had been campaigning for support from the Country Local Government Fund and the Mid-West Development Commission to extend the State Barrier Fence by an additional 480km.
Mr Dowden said he was hoping for a total of $5.8 million which would enclose 51 pastoral properties struggling with attacks from dogs in a vermin-proof cell.
“The vermin cell project is a completely different program which we have been working towards for the last three years,” he said.
The Shire of Mount Magnet, in conjunction with the shires of Sandstone, Yalgoo and Cue, had applied for $1 million from the Country Local Government Fund and a further $4.8m from the Mid West Development Commission.
“I am very confident that we can get this through,” Mr Dowden said.
“We have had a huge amount of support for pastoralists and the Minister is right behind us with this, which is great to see.
“I am confident we should have an outcome by Christmas.”