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Beyond the Bale : September 2014
ON FARM 29 Former pastoralist Teen Ryan has become a successful dogger. PHOTO: Amare Images. employment on a farm and Teen took time out. “I relished in recharging my batteries for the next six months, visiting our kids, grandkids and friends,” she said. “But boredom set in. I missed the bush and the solitude that comes with it, so I decided to go through the formal channels and register myself as a professional dogger.” Teen is now contracted to the Goldfields Nullarbor Rangelands Biosecurity Association (GNRBA) on wild-dog- related activities. She is a dogger for the GNRBA, laying baits and traps and liaising with landholders, giving them the confidence that a dogger provides, who is prepared to assist them in maintaining a sustainable livestock enterprise. “A usual day for me can involve laying baits in the Shires of Kalgoorlie, Menzies and Dundas and looking for new areas of dog activity,” Teen said. “Another role of mine is working as a dogger for the GNRBA on a local Royalties for Regions-funded project. “I also deal with poisons such as 1080 and strychnine, making the baits and distributing them to pastoralists who are members of the recognised biosecurity group.” (While legislation in WA allows use of strychnine, not all states in Australia allow it. Refer to your local legislation.) Teen is respected for the dedication and detail she applies to her work and her willingness to make a difference is well appreciated. Teen camps out when she’s working. Her ute is fully set up as a home away from home. She admits the life can be lonely. “You have to enjoy your own company and it is frequently dirty and smelly work, dealing with baits, and removing dead animals from traps,” she says. “You have to handle vehicle problems, find ways to get into inaccessible areas, deal with flies, heat, the cold and all those other elements that can make for a difficult time.” Teen says wild dogs can be both arrogant and highly intelligent. A high level of patience is also required to deal with cunning old dogs. “On occasion, it has taken me two years to catch a particular wild dog, which was a rewarding outcome,” she says. Wild dog families mature, continue to breed and fan out to neighbouring territories. Once a dominant dog is taken out, more dogs can come in to take its place, so it’s important to remain vigilant. Teen sees her liaison work with local pastoralists as very important. “Nobody knows their country like a farmer or pastoralist and I value any knowledge or thoughts they are willing to pass onto me in regards to wild dogs,” she says. “I also liaise with the bordering doggers as there are times we all ‘share a dog’ and it becomes a team effort to get rid of it. We talk about different methods and what they’re contending with on their patch. We may have our boundaries mapped out, but the dogs’ territory is totally different and one dog may operate through several shires.” Teen wants to see links between farmers and pastoralists, doggers and government continue to strengthen in the fight against wild dogs. “We can all learn from each other in this battle against wild dogs,” she says. “A lot can be gained by listening to and working with doggers and farmers on the ground.” Teen says it’s the rewards that outweigh the negatives of the tough life the job involves. “There is a lot of responsibility that comes with the position,” she says. “Doggers cover vast areas and our priority is to prevent stock attacks. We deal with toxic chemicals, soft-jawed traps and high- powered rifles. We’re away from home, family and friends a lot, out in the bush alone much of the time. “But as a former pastoralist and now as a dogger, I know first-hand the damage wild dogs inflict. So I am passionate in my role as a paid professional to achieve optimum results for the farmers.” This article is based on text provided by the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA.