ABC Rural

By Cherie McDonald  –  Craig Zonca – and Cairns News – Updated Fri 4 Jul 2014

Primary Industries Minister Barnaby Joyce has allocated $10m for this vital pest eradication program, allowing $280,000 for wild dogs.  At the same time Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop hands out $10m for dislocated Burmese people affected by war. Wild dogs cost farmers $60m or more a year. Where are the priorities of the Liberal National Party Government?

In the same place as that of the Greens and Labor!

A national plan to co-ordinate management of wild dogs in Australia is being launched today.

It’s taken a year of discussion, but Australia’s livestock producers are celebrating the launch of a national plan to tackle costly and distressing wild dog attacks on their stock.

The problem is estimated to cost the sheep and cattle industries almost $60 million each year.

The guidelines are expected to streamline resources and forge a co-ordinated approach to the wild dog problem that plagues pastoralists across the country.

The wool industry’s peak body will launch the plan along with the Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce today.

Barnaby Joyce says he’s encouraged by the enthusiasm that exists to tackle the problem and stresses the need to co-ordinate, ‘if you want to do something about it.’

The Federal Government has committed $10 million to pest eradication as part of the drought package launched earlier this year. There is a further $280,000 to co-ordinate the national wild dog program.

“One of the big things we want to do is remove pests and one of the worst pests you can have is wild dogs, because its cruel.

Every day you ride over to check your stock, there’s a big possibility you’ll find hefty losses.

Peter Lucas, Wyandra grazier

“We have something that kills sheep, not because they are hungry but because it’s fun; half kills koala’s, not because it is hungry but because it is fun.

“They get bored and they cover a large area,” he said

Mr Joyce says he plans to investigate the efficacy of baiting programs with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

“A lot of that [$10 million] will go into bait and baiting programs. But there is not much point in having baiting unless you get the efficacy to the baiting program in such as way that it destroys the dogs.”

“There is something terribly traumatic seeing half-mauled but still living animals that yesterday were still healthy, by reason of the cruelty of a marauding pack of dogs and we’ve got to do something about it. ”

“In the rainforest where we’re supposed to be managing it, they are doing exactly the same thing but they are destroying native fauna.”

WoolProducers Australia CEO Jane Brownbill hopes the how-to-guide will be the catalyst in reducing wild dog numbers.

“For the first time we’ve been able to get all the major grazing industries, state, territory and the Federal Governments plus researchers together on the same page to tackle the problem,” she says.

“It’s certainly about doing things smarter. It’s really about building on the work that’s been done.”

Audio: National wild dog action plan launched (ABC Rural)

Ms Brownbill says it’s not just the bottom line that is affected.

“There is an economic cost, but also for our farming families who are seeing their animals maimed, killed, you know that’s pretty hard for them to take,” she says.

“We also need to keep in mind the environmental and social impacts, and that’s what we bring together under the action plan.”

Ms Brownbill says intense consultation with peak industry bodies and Federal Government has paid off.

“We’ve been able to secure a five-year commitment to work together to manage wild dogs,” she says.

“What we have always tried to achieve when we started out on the national action plan, was to be able to bring everyone together, to share their problem and to be able to do things smarter.”

Ms Brownbill says a close working relationship between stakeholders is essential in the fight to reduce feral canine numbers.

“A better coordination is needed to make sure all landholders and those who think they might not be directly affected by wild dogs, actually understand the problem of these pests.”

Broad community participation the key to reducing wild dog numbers

Peter Lucas chairs the Paroo Shire Wild Dog Advisory Committee in south-west Queensland.

The Wyandra grazier is hoping the action plan will provide a strong platform to argue for greater public funding of wild dog control.

Audio: Western Queensland grazier Peter Lucas has high hopes for Wild Dog Action Plan (ABC Rural)

“We have to go cap in hand to our local council every year.”

Mr Lucas compares the wild dog problem in regional Queensland to what it would be like to own a corner store in town that’s broken into every night.

“Every day you ride over to check your stock, there’s a big possibility you’ll find hefty losses.”

While baiting and trapping programs have become more coordinated in recent years, Mr Lucas believes the key issue is participation.

“We need everybody to be involved in dog control.”

Mr Lucas says the high compliance rate among Paroo Shire landholders has seen great progress made, particularly in the past 10 years.

“They’re quite proud now to let people know that they’re involved in control programs.”

And the proof is in the numbers.

Like many other council areas, the Paroo Shire runs a bounty scheme for wild dog scalps.

Over the past financial year, they paid out for 58 scalps whereas its northern neighbour, the Murweh Shire had claims for more than 2,500.

To Mr Lucas, the success of the National Wild Dog Action Plan will be to see those numbers dramatically reduce and prompt farmers to turn back to the sheep industry.

“That would be the best outcome we could wish for, all these small communities would love to see that.”