Feral dogs continue to present an economic threat to farmers across the country but measures to control their numbers are proving successful.
Wild dog attacks cost the farming industry millions of dollars a year due to attacks on livestock and the spread of disease. While the Federal Government’s 2015 National Wild Dog Action Plan has seen some success, wild dogs continue to push south and the threat level continues to be high.
In the Kimberley in far north WA, dogs are attacking calves on a weekly, sometimes daily basis, according to Matthew Cole, owner of Kimberley Vermin Control. As the region’s only full-time dogger, he receives almost daily phone calls from farmers reporting significant cattle losses in the region. He believes wild dog numbers are firmly on the rise, estimating 10-20% of calves in a herd were lost each year to wild dog attacks.
“On one station in particular, Anna Plains, I’ve removed over 83 dogs there in the last six months and there’s plenty of dogs still there and a lot of injured wild stock,” he told ABC News. David Stoate, the owner of Anna Plains station, which is 250 kilometres south of Broome, said he spends over $50,000 a year on wild dog control.
In WA, an annual 1080 aerial baiting program is supported by the Department of Primary Industries and a sterilisation project targeting dogs in remote and regional communities has been established in the Kimberley region.
A plan to erect a 362-kilometre barrier fence at a cost of nearly $1 million was announced early in 2019, which aims to protect sheep and goat stocks in the south-west of the state. Chris Higham from Meedo Station told reporters the fence was essential before wild dog numbers reached unmanageable levels.
Dog control efforts in the Northern Territory and Victoria are also using a range of baiting, fencing and trapping activities. However, with limited state and federal resources, landowners and community groups will play an increasingly vital role in the effort to control wild dogs nationwide.