A NATIONAL action plan has helped Western Australian livestock producers bite back at wild dogs for the past 15 years.
However, there are fears the hard work could be undone, as the future of the National Wild Dog Management co-ordinator's role, beyond 2023, is in doubt.
It comes as majority financial supporter, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), was forced to significantly reduce its contribution after retaining its 1.5 per cent wool levy instead of increasing it.
Concerns were raised by producers last month, when the National Wild Dog Action Plan (NWDAP) co-ordination committee met in Canberra to review progress and provide strategic direction for the plan.
At the meeting, Cascade Merino breeder Scott Pickering moved a motion to approach Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) to step in and fill the funding gap.
MLA funding for NWDAP research - which was being used for the co-ordinator - ended on June 30 with future options being considered through MLA's donor company.
Mr Pickering said MLA's levies - $5 for a cow, $1.50 lamb and 20 cents for mutton - more than justified a contribution to the project.
He said NWDAP only needed $250,000 to $350,000 over the next five years, which was essentially "pocket money" for MLA.
"Those levies would more than easily cover the cost of it," Mr Pickering said.
"We want them to come to the table and start contributing.
"Their levies would easily cover the cost of putting more money into the co-ordinator's role.
"If they don't we will need to try and find funding elsewhere."
According to the NWDAP 2020-2030, wild dogs are estimated to cost the Australian economy anywhere between $64 million to $111m each year in the impact to livestock and national costs associated with control.
An independent review, conducted by Agtrans research, assessed the overall impacts of the NWDAP in 2014-2019.
Key findings of the review stated the $2.62m investment made during those years returned estimated total benefits of $15.93m to $43.3m.
AWI has played a critical role in funding a wild dog co-ordinator to help producers and other key stakeholders collaborate to reduce the impact of livestock predation.
This has helped to improve onfarm productivity and rural community wellbeing and biodiversity.
Mr Pickering said wild dogs remained a large problem in Australia and one that "wasn't going to go away".
He said the management co-ordinator had generated significant benefits to livestock producers, however wild dogs had become more prevalent in new and emerging areas.
"We need continuity from the committee and the co-ordinator for community engagement, so we can continue best practice management,'' Mr Pickering said.
"If that role is cut-down we lose community engagement, effectiveness and all the hard work we have put."
Mr Pickering highlighted the importance of having people in the field, talking to and working with growers to deliver on the ground programs.
He said this should be achieved through producer demonstration sites and be a key target for MLA through its adoption program.
"The National Wild Dog Management co-ordinator has been pivotal in achieving on-ground management in the rangelands," Mr Pickering said.
"However, further support will be required inside the agricultural areas where wild dogs are present and programs aren't well established.
"The ongoing support through the NWDAP of the co-ordinator is still required."
Pastoralists and Graziers' Association of WA livestock committee chairman Chris Patmore seconded Mr Pickering's motion in Canberra.
Mr Patmore said MLA had been seriously lacking in its support for the co-ordinator's role.
He urged the organisation to reassess its priorities to include some funding towards the NWDAP and its co-ordinator.
"To date, AWI has provided the vast majority of the funding for the plan, which has seen a major improvement in wild dog control programs right across Australia,'' Mr Patmore said.
"This plan provides the structure and confidence for investment from the Federal government, State governments and local groups.
"They're getting investment in on-ground wild dog control and some serious investment in fencing, including the Esperance extension to WA's State barrier fence."
In a statement last week, a MLA spokesperson said it was approached in May for potential funding opportunities.
The spokesperson said it was considering the project through the MLA Donor Company and its consultation and prioritisation process with the Red Meat Panel's research advisory councils and peak industry councils.
"These investments are considered in the context of all the top producer priorities, which came from that process," the statement said.
The spokesperson added, MLA recognised the detrimental impact wild dogs had on sheep, goats, cattle and the profitability of the red meat industry.
MLA has two projects in regional Victoria, where producers are implementing best management control practices for predation on sheep by wild dogs and other predators.
"In addition, MLA has just completed a wild dog management project in Queensland worth $856,800 and has received a MDC application for a significant wild dog management project in South Australia.
"We have invested about $2.1m in wild dog projects in total since 2017," the statement said.
The spokesperson said MLA's role was to invest in new methods for wild dog control, to drive the adoption of best practice wild dog management based on the latest research and development.
"MLA will consider those investments in line with the well-established governance process and in alignment with the industry and MLA's strategic priorities.
"It should be stated baiting, trapping and shooting are not eligible R&D activities."
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