A ROLLING five-year national plan to tackle the wild dog problem has been released this week for public comment by WoolProducers Australia (WPA).
The development of the National Wild Dog Action Plan Exposure Draft was guided by a 14-strong committee comprising industry, government, animal welfare and research organisations.
In a statement, WPA said the draft plan seeks to improve national and state coordination of wild dog management and promote best practice standards across various state and regional approaches now in place.
WPA president Geoff Power said the plan would guide the implementation of a nationally-agreed framework focusing on a strategic and risk-based approach to wild dog management.
“It will have an emphasis on humane, safe and effective management techniques and the mitigation of the impacts of wild dogs at appropriate scales,” Mr Power said.
“The stakeholders involved hope the final plan can be used as a model to facilitate action against other pests such as foxes, pigs and rabbits – all of which have also proven to cause damage to conservation and production.”
The draft plan estimates the impacts on the Australian economy of wild dogs from production losses due to predation on livestock, disease transmission in livestock and control costs conservatively range from $40 million to $60 million annually.
However, some industry sources estimate the economic impact to be much greater, in the hundreds of millions of dollars per annum.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data show the Queensland sheep flock has fallen from 14 million in the 1980s to less than four million in 2007-08.
Since 1990, the number of sheep shorn in Queensland has dropped 92 per cent, from over 21 million to less than two million, according to WPA.
WPA says while there are a range of reasons why graziers are getting out of sheep, in a large proportion of cases it's due to the impact or threat of wild dog predation.
The Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association estimated the cost of wild dog attacks during 2011-12 to be in the vicinity of $80 million.
In NSW, estimates of $50 million per annum have been attributed to the cost of wild dog predation.
The draft plan sets out four primary goals: Provide leadership and coordination for a nationally consistent approach to integrated and strategic management of wild dogs. Increase awareness, understanding and stakeholder capacity to improve the adoption of wild dog management practices through maximising public, government and community support. Promote the use of best practice wild dog control at all scales to mitigate the negative impacts of wild dogs. Support the establishment of nationally consistent metrics to monitor, evaluate and report wild dog impacts to inform and continuously improve wild dog management.
While dingoes are included in the definition of wild dogs for the purposes of the draft plan, the focus of the plan is on managing the negative impacts of wild dogs generally on agricultural, biodiversity and social assets.
The National Wild Dog Action Plan Development Project was initiated by WPA (as the lead agent) with the full support of the Vertebrate Pests Committee, National Wild Dog Management Advisory Group as well as government, peak industry grazing organisations, animal welfare organisations and researchers.
Feedback on the draft plan will be accepted until Friday, October 25, 2013, and the draft plan can be viewed at http://www.woolproducers.com.au/national-wild-dogs-action-plan/