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Beyond the Bale : December 2016
is an agreed, written-down process – on responsibilities, activities and how to access available funds. All stakeholders are following the Plan which means that wild dog control is being undertaken in a coordinated way across public and private land.” There is a still a lot more work to be undertaken in the area. However following implementation of the Wild Dog Management Plan and its subsequent results, there is now talk by a number of producers keen, but cautious, to increase sheep numbers within the area. Proactive control will now be maintained at this level as per the agreed management plans by all stakeholders with an anticipated decline in dog numbers over the next three to five years. “It has been very quiet on the dog front lately. With all stakeholders working together, we seem to have turned a corner which bodes well for the future,” James Robertson added. ROLE OF AN INDEPENDENT FACILITATOR It has been a long and difficult road to get to this more positive situation. Control efforts were hampered for several years by conflicting management approaches, and differing rationales for wild dog management, between landholders and public land managers. This had stalled the development and agreement of the Wongwibinda Wild Dog Management Plan. In mid-2015, a wild dog facilitator funded by AWI, Dave Worsley, was appointed to assist woolgrowers and other key stakeholders in the north-east of NSW to work together to lessen the impact of livestock predation by wild dogs. One of his initial focuses was the Wongwibinda area. Dave’s position is funded by AWI and managed by the Invasive Animals CRC in 33 A remote camera photo of wild dogs on private property around Wongwibinda. These wild dogs were subsequently trapped by a NPWS funded professional wild dog controller. PHOTO: NPWS partnership with AWI, NSW Department of Primary Industries, NSW Farmers and Northern Tablelands LLS. The position complements other AWI-funded wild dog coordinators operating in western NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, in addition to the National Wild Dog management facilitator Greg Mifsud. Their role is to facilitate collaboration between landholders (in new or existing wild dog management groups) and with other key private and public stakeholders, locally and across shires. They also help coordinate on-ground wild dog control activities. The coordinators use a ‘nil-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 particular 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 now feel that something positive is being done to address the constant financial and emotional impact of wild dogs. REACHING AGREEMENT Collaboration between stakeholders – although vital – can be challenging without the external help provided by an independent facilitator, as was the case at Wongwibinda. “One of my first tasks was to help move forward with development of the Wongwibinda Wild Dog Management Plan and seek all stakeholders’ agreement with the Plan. This involved negotiating difficult historical issues and driving negotiations,” Dave said. “Aerial and ground baiting conducted effectively by all stakeholders has proven highly effective in other regions. But the results can be disastrous where holes appear and there is a lack of consistency – the area north-east of Armidale was an example of such a situation. “Baiting can only be effective when it is broad scale, coordinated, strategic, integrated and cooperative. “Although there were many challenges with the negotiations, I made a commitment to get a result by the May 2016 aerial baiting program. This was my critical date as otherwise another 12 months would pass without relief for affected producers. “As an independent facilitator I was able to provide an outside perspective and focus on the real issues and problem. Bringing in and using other independent experts such as the National Wild Dog Facilitator Greg Mifsud added credibility to the process.” Dave’s lengthy discussions with many individual landholders ultimately gained their consents for aerial and ground baiting across an extensive area. With this swell of landholder commitment Dave continued negotiations with NWPS and LLS which eventually resulted in an offer, and subsequent agreement on the Wild Dog Management Plans by the three wild dog groups. Janelle Brooks from NPWS says Dave put a lot of effort into talking face to face with all the separate stakeholders. “The lack of wild dog control coordination prior to the Plan had been frustrating for all stakeholders and led to relationships being tested during significant wild dog activity,” she said. “However Dave was able to facilitate frank and open discussions due to his commitment to being a neutral facilitator. We wouldn’t be in this now positive position if it wasn’t for Dave.” Mark Tarrant from Northern Tablelands LLS says Dave’s independence enabled the eventual finalisation of the Wild Dog Management Plan. “Through Dave’s impartiality he managed to get commitment from public and private stakeholders,” he said. “With Dave as the facilitator I could also concentrate on my role as a stakeholder for LLS. Everyone has made very good progress.” Dave has also helped secure funds for resources such as training days, monitoring cameras, Canid Pest Ejectors and reactive trapping. He has also been working with North Coast LLS to coordinate the Hernani and Tyringham wild dog groups that now bait in conjunction with the Wongwibinda, Chandler River and Jeogla Wild Dog Control Associations around the national park area. In addition, he has helped establish an Ebor baiting group which has baited twice in conjunction with the other groups. MORE INFORMATION Dave Worsley can be contacted on 0429 638 078 and email@example.com ON FARM 33
In the Shops - March 2017