THE State government has committed a further $750,000 towards maintaining on ground control measures to protect Western Australia's $1.6 billion sheep industry from the threat of wild dogs.
In 2017 the government announced three years of funding for licensed pest management technicians (LPMTs or doggers) through the Wild Dog Action Plan.
The $750,000 investment will continue the services of eight full-time-equivalent LPMTs for another year to control wild dogs inside the State Barrier Fence and adjacent buffer zone.
Extending the funding will give the government time to consider a longer-term funding package.
This decision was brought forward as the State Budget has been delayed until later in the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said extending the funding would mean the good work done by the doggers and Recognised Biosecurity Groups (RBGs) to protect the State's sheep industry could continue.
"The State government has invested extensively in protecting livestock from wild dogs, including a $5.8 million four-year program to replace, repair and maintain the State Barrier Fence and access tracks and $6.9m to construct the Esperance Extension of the State Barrier Fence," Ms MacTiernan said.
"The McGowan government is looking to continue its strategic Statewide management approach to wild dogs, with work underway on a new action plan extending to 2024."
The eight doggers are employed by six RBGs to manage the impact of wild dogs on government land through baiting and trapping.
The efforts of the RBGs, doggers and individual land managers serve to protect the profitability and wellbeing of WA's 14.5 million head sheep flock.
Their activities form part of an integrated pest control program under the WA Wild Dog Action Plan.
Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA (PGA) livestock committee chairman Chris Patmore, who is also the acting chairman of the Central Wheatbelt Biosecurity Association, said the funding was timely.
"The PGA welcomes this announcement to extend the Royalties for Regions funding of the LPMTs," Mr Patmore said.
"It's something we have been pushing for many months and has come just in time.
"The RBGs have been anxiously waiting for this commitment to enable them to prepare their dogger contracts for the next financial year.
"The pastoral RBGs are reliant on this funding because the landowners don't have the financial ability to pay a higher declared pest rate and they're really in a desperate situation.
"The agricultural area RBGs are also reliant on this money because of the way the RBGs are set up geographically.
"By law they must follow Shire boundaries.
"Unfortunately these do not follow the clearing line, nor the State Barrier Fence.
"I know in the case of one of my local groups, the Central Wheatbelt Biosecurity Association, our doggers need to spend 80 per cent of their time on other RBG land inside the State Barrier Fence, pastoral areas and government land, none of which we can collect rates from."
Mr Patmore said the five RBGs adjoining the inside of the State Barrier Fence were at the front line of managing wild dogs for the agricultural areas and "they're struggling to maintain sheep farming in their own regions, as well as the wider impact of wild dogs being established inside the State Barrier Fence for the rest of the South West region".