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Beyond the Bale : December 2012
Baiting helps wild dog control 29 ON-FARM December 2012 BEYOND THE BALE Craig Lloyd is a sheep producer from the high country area at Ensay in East Gippsland. He is one of several landholders in the area who are active in combating wild dog predation and encouraging the local community join in their initiatives. Craig says the local community's activities, assisted with funding from AWI, have resulted in a reduction in dog numbers and lower incidence of predation on his own property and neighbouring properties. "The impact of dogs on our farm enterprises is not as significant as it once was, which is enabling us to get on with the business of raising sheep," he says. "It wasn't uncommon to see packs of six or seven dogs walking across your paddock. But things have really quietened down for now -- which is good for the stock, and the local wildlife. It has also alleviated a lot of the stress that producers have been feeling about stock losses. "AWI's support for dog control has been extremely useful in the Ensay area. Brian Dowley, the AWI-funded community baiting coordinator, helps facilitate the baiting. For instance he ensures the correct number of baits are supplied and distributed. It's important that the baits are on the ground across a large baiting area within the same 24 hours -- this helps increase the chance that dogs within an area will take a bait. Collaboration with neighbouring and local farmers is vital. "The funding for the actual baits and trap kits by AWI has been a real boost. The funding acts as an incentive for farmers to get involved. Trapping remains an important part to pick up dogs that the baits don't get. We've been having a lot of success with reducing the number of foxes too." Craig knows that to make good progress against wild dogs, landholders should have an ongoing, integrated approach to wild dog prevention. "Baiting is just part of an effective control strategy," he says. "Other important considerations include competent wild dog controllers, shooting and trapping. Well maintained electric fences are also an effective means of keeping out the dogs -- they enable me to sleep better at night. "I know that some people in other areas outside of Ensay have traditionally been a bit skeptical about baiting -- but by introducing it as a complement to other control methods hopefully they'll begin to see its value." Craig is also a coordinator for his local Bestwool/Bestlamb group. "Initiatives such as Bestwool/ Bestlamb -- also funded by AWI -- provide a complementary role to the on-ground activity by keeping producers focussed on their business. It's important to keep the dog problem in perspective -- killing dogs is just a means to an end, we make our money by raising sheep. "This is a great region for sheep, but the wild dog problem over the years drove many farmers to turn to cattle. There used to be about 25-30,000 sheep in the area, but numbers fell to about 3000. Now with reduced dog numbers, there is a real potential for farmers to come back to sheep, which they can make good money out of in a region like this." Baiting coordinator Brian Dowley is part of the AWI's wild dog project in Victoria which involved the establishment of coordinators in the wild dog affected areas of Gippsland and the north east of the state. "I am here to help producers develop cooperative programs that will provide long term benefits," Brian says. "Coordinated baiting programs are an effective, proven model for the management of wild dogs across Australia. The communities affected by wild dogs within this project will benefit from an organised program of locally delivered 1080 training and accreditation, bait supply, on-going technical support and coordination of all land managers to achieve effective wild dog management." AWI's wild dog project in Victoria complements similar AWI projects under way in NSW, Queensland and South Australia. More information: www.wool.com/pestanimals FAST FACTS l AWI-funded community baiting coordinators are helping sheep producers and communities tackle the wild dog problem. l The coordinators help deliver training, bait supply, technical support and coordination of land managers. l Sheep producer Craig Lloyd from Ensay, Victoria says a collaborative approach by the baiting coordinator and the farming community is helping reduce dog numbers in his locality. Sheep producer Craig Lloyd (left foreground) and Community Baiting Coordinator Brian Dowley (centre) with Bestwool/Bestlamb Chairman Jason Trompf (right) at a meeting of the Ensay Bestwool/Bestlamb group that Craig facilitates.