Updated wild dog strategy released

Wild dogs are widespread in NSW, with the red areas indicating a confirmed presence. Image courtesy Department of Primary Industries.

A NEW five-year NSW Wild Dog Management Strategy that identifies specific actions to minimise wild dog impacts in the state has been released by the NSW Government.

The plan outlines the creation of new ‘Regional Pest Action Committees’ that will operate in the 11 Local Land Services regions from late 2017, so for us, that’s the Riverina LLS.

These committees, to be made up of relevant agencies like the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the LLS, and Forestry Corporation, as well as individual landholders, will be tasked with developing a Local Wild Dog Management Plan for their specific regions.

Around Tumut, parties have already developed Wild Dog Working Groups, with one each for Goobarragandra, Gilmore, and Brindabella, so presumably the Regional Pest Action Committee will take what these working groups have been workshopping on board.

However, the new strategy does not mention what has been identified as the biggest barrier to stopping the wild dog attacks in this region: funding.

Farmers have long been saying that what is needed is a jointly-funded full-time pest animal controller to trap the wild dogs coming in from Kosciuszko National Park and the State Forests, and they have long been told that there isn’t the budget for one.

The 24-page Wild Dog Management Strategy 2017-2021 does not mention any additional funding to tackle the wild dog problem in NSW. A Department of Primary Industries spokesperson confirmed that the new strategy would be implemented under the current funding model.

The strategy does recognise the severity of the problem, with the authors writing, “wild dog presence is generally incompatible with small livestock production (e.g. poultry, sheep, goats, calves) and once predation begins it will usually continue until either the wild dogs or the susceptible stock are removed.

“Shifts in land use away from small livestock production can reduce total productive capacity and income. Where this occurs as a broader trend, local economies can be severely affected by wild dog-induced enterprise change.

“Social impacts include acute and chronic distress, depression, anxiety, insomnia and conflict, and social disruption. Conflict can occur between family members; public and private land owners and managers; operators of different enterprises among private landowners; and affected rural/peri-urban communities and unaffected urban communities.”

However, it also demonstrates the inherent contradiction in wild dog prevention strategies in Australia – they don’t want the wild dogs to kill livestock, but they also don’t want to wipe out a beloved Australian icon in the dingo.

It says, “a key principle of pest animal management is that the focus of management should be on reducing impacts, rather than removing pest animals per se.”

Wild dogs around Tumut are currently being tested for their percentage of dingo purity by researchers.

The NSW Wild Dog Management Strategy 2017-2021 is available online at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/445234/NSW-Wild-Dog-Management-Strategy-2017-2021.pdf.