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Beyond the Bale : June 2011
23 June 2011 BEYOND THE BALE ON-FARM WESTERN AUSTRALIA To help combat the issue in Western Australia, AWI, the Invasive Animals CRC (IACRC) and the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) are working together with landholders to reduce the impact of wild dogs. Over the past 10 months AWI has assisted in the funding of Wild Dog Management Planning Workshops across the rangelands of WA. The workshops have been well attended and have seen over 200 woolgrowers informed on the current best practice methods to manage the impact of wild dogs on the pastoral industry. One of the attendees, John Nankivell who runs 3000 Merino ewes in the West Australian wheat-belt, said in his area $6000 dollars worth of sheep were taken down by just one dog, and he adds it could have easily been more. "Early observation is vital if you're going to handle something you're not used to," Mr Nankivell says. "The workshops were very beneficial as they help farmers know what to look for." The Wild Dog Management Planning Workshops are designed to be an open group discussion between the attending landholders on how everyone is managing the wild dog problem. Thanks to the IACRC, the National Wild Dog Facilitator Greg Mifsud has also been able to attend the workshops to discuss control options with woolgrowers, bringing them up to speed with the current research and advances in the development of new control techniques. Biosecurity officer for DAFWA, Jim Miller, organises the workshops, and demonstrates to woolgrowers the tools and techniques for wild dog control. He says one of the best outcomes from the workshop is people are communicating with each other. "The workshops are getting people talking again, re-establishing communication within industry which has been lost for a long time; not only do we need neighbours to be talking, but all stakeholders," Mr Miller says. "Greg Mifsud isamineof information, he also shows the pastoralists they are not alone with their struggle against dogs; it's highlighting the stuff they are doing is on the right track." At the end of the workshops, landholders were provided with maps of their area and were asked to record dog movement corridors, areas of wild dog activity or attacks and what control they are currently putting in place. This process was hugely successful and generated a huge amount of discussion between neighbours. Mr Miller says this was the biggest eye opener for pastoralists. "One landholder may believe the dogs are coming in from one direction, but his neighbour says they are actually coming in from the other direction, so both guys are putting baits out but not actually targeting where the dogs are travelling between the two places," Mr Miller says. "You might get a dog on the first bloke's place, but when they go through the boundary fence onto the neighbours, the baits are on the other side of the property miles away. "It just goes to show how important it is to get people talking; neighbours need to be talking about what activity or dog sign they are seeing so they can work together in a coordinated fashion to control the dogs before they get to livestock." Mr Miller says the workshops have consequently resulted in landholders deciding to work more closely together. "More importantly, all of the groups involved will plan to hold one regionally coordinated baiting across the rangelands in November. This should result in a continuous area of coverage spanning from Kalgoorlie in the south all the way to the Pilbara in the north, This level of coverage has never been achieved at the same time in this region." FARMERS HELPING FARMERS In 2004, five farmers got together with DAFWA to look at strategies to combat wild dogs. With financial support from DAFWA and the Department of Environment and Conservation, and Wild dog workshop at a farm at Cascade, WA. Maremma guardian dogs in a mob of sheep. "THE WORKSHOPS ARE GETTING PEOPLE TALKING AGAIN, RE-ESTABLISHING COMMUNICATION WITHIN INDUSTRY WHICH HAS BEEN LOST FOR A LONG TIME" JIM MILLER, DAFWA CONTINUED ON PAGE 24