Wild dogs have become an increasingly significant livestock biosecurity and welfare issue in recent years. Dog packs preying on vulnerable lambs and calves in particular are now threatening the viability of the sheep industry in some regions of Australia.
The problem has become so large that WoolProducers Australia has brought together critical industry stakeholders* to develop a national action plan to combat the economic and personal devastation caused by wild dogs across rural Australia.
Apart from the obvious threat of death and injury in livestock, dogs are also a source of the spread of animal-borne diseases, including hydatids and neospora (a protozoan pathogen in cattle and dogs).
To protect the health of your livestock, crops and plantations it is important to minimise the risks associated with feral animals by adopting the following biosecurity practices:
A regional approach
Wild dogs, like other pests, do not acknowledge state borders or property boundaries. The most important thing you can do to limit their impact is to work with neighbours, community and other producers in your local area to implement a coordinated approach to feral animal control.
Start by joining or forming a local steering committee to develop a management plan for the whole affected region. This could be done through existing structures like the local council, Landcare or invasive species control group. Then consider which existing and new strategies may be effective in your area. These include:
* Chaired by WoolProducers Australia vice-president Jim McKenzie, the Steering group also includes: Animal Health Australia Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders Australian Pest Animal Strategy Cattle Council of Australia; Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities; Invasive Animal CRC; Meat and Livestock Australia; National Farmers Federation; National Wild Dog Management Advisory Group (NWDMAG); Sheepmeat Council of Australia; Vertebrate Pests Committee.