CONTROLLING wild dogs was a key issue at the recent annual general meeting of the Kimberley division of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA), where a new board was also elected.
Lynette Craig, Sophie Downs station, Halls Creek, East Kimberley, was elected as the new chairperson and will be supported by vice president Phil Hams, Gogo station, Fitzroy Crossing and Wendy Brockhurst, Larrawa station, Halls Creek, as treasurer.
PGA president Tony Seabrook welcomed the new board.
"Lynn was Shire president of Halls Creek until recent years and she brings a wealth of knowledge and organisation to the Kimberley division," he said.
"Lynn knew the job needed to be done and was prepared to step up and do it."
Mr Seabrook said a range of issues, including the impact wild dogs were having in the Kimberley, were discussed at the meeting.
He said the dogs were a major problem, costing Kimberley cattlemen a lot of money.
Mr Seabrook said PGA members want more to be done, including widespread baiting that includes non-pastoral properties.
Graham Jacobs, Liberal MLA for Eyre, also called on the government and its departments to "stop procrastinating and just get on with funding for the wild dog fences throughout Western Australia".
"It is no secret that there is a problem with wild dogs throughout this State and more needs to be more to combat the issue," Dr Jacobs said.
"What I cannot fathom is why it is taking so long for the action plan to come to fruition."
"In 2005 we had the State Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee, in 2013 the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) released the Wild Dog Management Strategic Response and in 2016 our pastoralists still live in desperation that our government will fix the problem."
The proposed wild dog action plan was developed and released to a targeted group of stakeholders in February this year.
It identified a range of control options including fencing, the use of doggers, trapping and baiting.
Dr Jacobs said pastoralists throughout WA had been calling on Regional Development Minister Terry Redman to provide Royalties for Regions funds for the State Barrier Fence since 2014.
The Kalgoorlie Pastoral Alliance have also called for an interest-free loan to build fenced cells in the Goldfields.
"This is not rocket science - to work towards a flourishing pastoral industry for the future, we need to invest now, DAFWA needs to expedite the process and get funds to where they are needed," Dr Jacobs said.
"This is an important part of re-establishing the sheep industry in pastoral regions and halting the declining numbers of sheep in WA."
Dr Jacobs called on new Agriculture Minister Mark Lewis to immediately endorse the Wild Dog Action Plan.
"Someone has their foot on the hose, I call on the minister to identify the obstruction and immediately progress the projects," he said.
The projects include the Kalgoorlie Pastoral Alliance cell fence, which encompasses nine pastoralists and millions of hectares of dog-ravaged pastoral leases.
At a recent State government estimates and finance operations hearing in Perth, DAFWA biosecurity and regulation executive director Kevin Chennell said the wild dog action plan had been developed and would be presented to State Cabinet soon.
He said a recent wild dog bounty trial was conducted and while it was successful, questions remained about its overall benefit.
There is no proposal for this to continue.
Mr Lewis said the delivery of the wild dog action plan was one of his key focuses since taking on the agriculture portfolio.
"I have had the opportunity over the past few months to meet with pastoralists at the coal face to get their views," Mr Lewis said.
"I will shortly be in a position to release the action plan and how the State government intends to implement it."