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Beyond the Bale : March 2016
36 ON FARM Awild dog coordinator has been appointed in Western Australia to assist woolgrowers, other livestock producers, public land managers, and other key stakeholders to work together to lessen the impact of sheep predation by wild dogs. Reduced attacks will improve on-farm productivity, biodiversity and rural community wellbeing in wool-growing regions of the state. The new wild dog coordinator, Meja Aldrich, is based at Mingenew in the northern wheatbelt of Western Australia and will initially focus primarily on the Northern Agricultural Region and the adjacent pastoral region across the WA State Barrier Fence. AWI has created the position for an initial term of three years, after which it is anticipated that the strong and effective wild dog management programs, currently existing and soon to be established where necessary, will be highly coordinated. This effective approach can then be further expanded to include other wild dog affected wool and sheep production areas. The coordinator role is supported and advised by a Project Advisory Group drawn from a broad cross section of stakeholders. Meja will also be supported by the National Wild Dog Facilitator – and through this link by project officers and researchers experienced in wild dog and pest management, as well as the network of Invasive Animals CRC staff. The position in Western Australia complements the AWI-funded wild dog coordinators currently operating in western NSW,north-eastern NSW, Victoria and Queensland. NEED FOR COORDINATION A key part of Meja’s role will be to facilitate collaboration between landholders (in new or existing wild dog management groups) and with other key stakeholders, locally and across shires. She will also help coordinate best practice on-ground wild dog control activities. This is vital, but can be challenging for landholders and groups without the external help provided by an independent coordinator. As used by other wild dog coordinators, Meja will use a ‘cross-tenure landscape level’ approach with local communities that highlights the benefit of focusing on the ‘common problem’ rather than attributing ownership of the dogs to individual land managers. This approach encourages good working relationships between private and public land managers. More importantly, it can have a positive impact on the emotional well-being of farmers in the area who then feel that something positive is being done to address the constant financial and emotional impact of wild dogs. AWI On-farm Program Manager Ian Evans says woolgrowers recognise the vital need for wild dog control, but they often don’t have the relationships with all land managers across such vast distances as in Western Australia that are needed to be able to work together on the dog problem. “Nor do they necessarily have all the skills or resources to combat dogs, and those people that are actively involved in dog control can often feel burnout due to the scale of the problem,” he added. “That is why communities need a coordinator to step in and help out. They need somebody independent who can get landholders working together locally and across shires. I’m sure woolgrowers across the state will welcome the benefits of this new position in WA.” INTRODUCING MEJA ALDRICH Meja Aldrich has a good understanding of livestock production and behaviour, coordination with producers, and a desire to improve the welfare of sheep within the production process. “I understand how damaging predatory behaviour can be for farm operations and industries,” she says. “I place great significance in clear communication with FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA NEW WILD DOG COORDINATOR A wild dog coordinator has been appointed to help reduce dog predation in sheep producing areas of Western Australia. The AWI-funded coordinator will work with woolgrowers and other stakeholders to help strengthen the rural communities’ efforts to achieve sustained on-the-ground control of wild dogs. The new wild dog coordinator, Meja Aldrich. producers and recognise the importance of strong relationships.” Californian-born, with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business from California State University in Fresno, Meja began in the role last month. “I really enjoy working with producers in Western Australia. Most of my livestock experience here comes from working on stations and export depots. “My work as a senior station hand on cattle stations in the Barkly, Pilbara, and Goldfields taught me how to understand livestock and to work in a team environment. I’ve also worked at sheep and cattle export depots in Geraldton, Kojonup, and Badgingarra which gave me experience at connecting with producers, agents and other stakeholders in the industry. “Most recently I conducted a livestock evaluation in the Mingenew Irwin area which opened my eyes to producer trends and development opportunities for local farming communities.” MORE INFORMATION Meja Aldrich can be contacted on 0417 622 780 and firstname.lastname@example.org AWI FUNDING AVAILABLE Funding is available under AWI’s 'Community Wild Dog Control Initiative' to individual groups to undertake wild dog control activities. Funding can be directed by groups to fill gaps they have identified in their control plans. Particular emphasis is placed on assisting groups to become self- sufficient in the longer term. To apply, groups should download and complete the application form at www.wool.com/wilddogs and submit it along with a plan, a map and a project budget to email@example.com. Applications are open to new groups as well as those groups that have previously received funding from AWI. If you need clarification or assistance please contact Ian Evans at AWI on 0427 773 005 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Shops - March 2016