Livestock under growing wild dog threat, baiting program ramped up in southern Queensland

By Ellie Sibson

Posted April 25, 2016 16:47:24

The threat to livestock from a rapidly growing wild dog population has prompted landowners and Southern Downs Regional Council to join forces to tackle the problem.

Key points:

  • Hidden cameras revealing dog movements
  • Helicopters dropping baits into rugged terrain
  • Grazier says all local landowners losing calves

Graziers and council officers in the state’s border region are heavily ramping up the baiting of wild dogs in a bid to stop their stock being killed.

Hidden cameras have been set up around several properties to help track the dogs’ movements and numbers.

Information gathered from the cameras has been helping with aerial baiting, which is being timed to coincide with the dog breeding season.

Lethal meat injected with the government-regulated dog and fox poison 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) is being dropped from a helicopter into rugged terrain.

A State Government fact sheet on the substance said it posed a “minimal” risk to native wildlife.

“Dogs and foxes are highly susceptible to 1080, and the small amount required to target these species poses a minimal threat to non-target species,” the fact sheet said.

Southern Downs Regional Council is coordinating the program utilising advice from the local wild dog management advisory committee.

Council officer James Eastwell said they have been targeting land that is inaccessible on foot.

“Without hitting that sort of area we’re really not going to get on top of the dogs,” he said.

“There are people losing 30 sheep in one night … it’s a big problem.”

‘More people, more rubbish dumps, more feed lots’

Landholder Brian Hopgood said he had noticed an increase in wild dog numbers.

“When I first came here 30 years ago, you would only see about one a year,” he said.

“Now we are seeing them every two or three months.

“I think there’s more people about, more rubbish dumps, more feed lots … all those sort of things provide a bit of food.”

Grazier and wild dog advisory committee vice chairman Ben Usher said landholders had banded together to help reduce the wild dog population.

“We decided enough is enough, it’s time to draw a line in the sand and do something proactive about it,” Mr Usher said.

“We’ve been putting cameras in the bush and on tracks to try and monitor and gauge the travel of dogs.

“It’s actually a bit frightening just how many dogs are out and about.

“Everyone with cattle would be losing calves, whether they realised it or not, they would be.”

Free baiting stations using donated meat have been set up for property owners, who can order and pick up the amount they need.

Landholder Anna Aspinall said if everybody baited their properties — whether or not they owned livestock — it would make a big difference.

“If only one baits then it doesn’t follow right through, so if everyone comes and baits it’s a really good purpose,” she said.

Topics: land-management, pest-management, dog, toowoomba-4350

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