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Beyond the Bale : June 2015
AWI COMMUNITY WILD DOG CONTROL INITIATIVE - FUNDING AVAILABLE Funding is available to groups under AWI’s ‘Community Wild Dog Control Initiative’. Applications are open to new groups as well as those groups that have previously received funding from AWI. If you would like to apply, please complete the Community Wild Dog Control Initiative application form available at www.wool.com/wilddogs and submit it along with a plan, a map and a project budget to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need clarification or assistance please contact Ian Evans at AWI on 0427 773 005. DELWP has intensified its baiting and trapping programs on adjoining public land to complement the community control program. These programs are now coordinated with all the landholders on a large scale. As well as community baiting and trapping, the Nevens use wild dog exclusion fencing and Maremma guardian dogs which Philip says are very effective. The area’s devastating bushfires in summer 2014 have increased the risk of reinvasion by wild dogs. Extensive fencing (including wild dog exclusion fencing) has been destroyed and the absence of vegetation has provided wild dogs with easier access to the grazing lands. However, with a proactive and coordinated approach from landholders, and financial assistance from AWI, the Nevens feel optimistic for the future. While on-ground initiatives such as baiting and traps are helping to reduce stock losses from wild dog attacks, landholders involved in community wild dog control programs are also noticing an increase in native wildlife and a sense of ‘balance’ that this brings both on-farm and in the bush. Reports provided by woolgrowers to AWI consistently state that wild dog control results in increased native wildlife – from quolls to bandicoots, lyrebirds to echidnas – in all areas, from the High Country to the pastoral zone. Brendan Cullen manages ‘Avenel Station’, a sheep and cattle enterprise in the far western parts of NSW, 145km north-west of Broken Hill on the South Australian wild dog fence. He has recently written to AWI about the increased numbers he has witnessed of one particular iconic species of Australian wildlife. “Recently I have noticed in our area an increase in numbers of the Australian bustard, commonly known as the ‘plains turkey’. These animals mainly live on the plains country and use the grasses for camouflage. They are very susceptible to wild dogs and foxes when these predator numbers increase,” Brendan said. “In the past twelve months there has been quite a few sightings of these terrific birds; I alone have seen at least twenty or more birds, even a chick which is quite uncommon. “I put this increase down to our baiting program. We have been baiting on Avenel Station over the past seven years using the product 1080. This can be quite a costly exercise if you bait on a quarterly basis but a very beneficial one. It has become one of our major management tools for wild dog and fox control and is working well. You can see it has a major effect on the increase of our native fauna.” Brendan says his neighbours are involved in a community baiting program and are encouraged to maintain the program on an annual basis. He says they know the benefit of such an effective management tool. “If you live inside the wild dog fence you will incur a problem with the dogs, some more than others, but the inevitable will catch up with you if action isn't taken on the front line.” Brendan has recently been working with the AWI-funded wild dog coordinator for the Western Division of NSW, Bruce Duncan of NSW Farmers. Bruce liaises with woolgrowers, livestock producers and other key stakeholders to help them achieve long term on-ground control of wild dogs. Collaboration between local landholders is vital when dealing with wild dog issues but can be challenging without external help, especially in western NSW where distances to travel are greater and there are a larger number of absentee landowners. “Bruce’s work takes him to most parts of western NSW,” Brendan said. “The area he covers is enormous. He would never be able to achieve what he does without the funding from AWI.” Brendan Cullen of ‘Avenel Station’, 145km north-west of Broken Hill, reports an increase in native wildlife following a baiting program to combat wild dogs. BENEFITS FOR Woolgrowers are reporting greater wildlife activity in areas where community wild dog control has been carried out. ON FARM 31 “There was a time a few years ago – when the dogs were killing a lot of sheep – and that felt very depressing. As individual farmers, we felt alone and powerless against them,” Philip said. “But now that the community and agencies have collectively come together with resources to address the issue, we have a greater sense of wellbeing and less stress. We feel a great sense of relief simply by the act of coming together and doing something to address the dog problem.” NATIVE WILDLIFE