NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro has intervened and brought Local Land Services to heel over plans to ‘scale down’ wild dog control in the South East – an area which covers the Deputy Premier’s own Monaro electorate.
South East LLS, who ultimately answer to Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair, has since admitted it was an “error in judgement” to propose removing its pest animal controllers and transition wild dog baiting and trapping back to the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
LLS-equivilent employees have performed those tasks in the region for 15 years.
The service was looking to offload it and focus on other on-ground duties, such as forcing the state’s new Biosecurity regime.
But Mr Barilaro said the plan – which he alleged was initiated by National Parks – was “poor and not acceptable to me, as the local member, or acceptable to the NSW Government.”
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Instead, services will be ramped up, with a new trapper and a regional wild dog coordinator-general to be put in place.
The intervention comes on the back of Mr Barilaro championing the controversial heritage protection of Wild Horses in the Kosciuszko National Park, also in his electorate.
Mr Barilaro said LLS will now ramp up active wild dog trapping across the south east region, not scale them down.
“Following the announcement by LLS that they would step back from wild dog management, the NSW Government has intervened,” Mr Barilaro said.
“I can announce today that the proposal put forward by LLS will not go ahead.”
Last month The Land reported dry conditions were forcing more wild dogs into eastern areas, including the area from Nimmitabel up to Braidwood.
Landholders such as the Litchfields at Badja, north-east of Cooma, were reporting a spike in wild dog attacks and a stock loss bill that was mounting into tens of thousands of dollars.
Despite frustrations over nil-tenure agreements, and a lack of control measures in local state forests, a co-ordinated baiting program between LLS, National Parks, and landholders, was reportedly working well.
South East Local Land Services general manager Anthony Marshall acknowledged the agency made an “error in judgement” when it moved to reconsider its wild dog program in the region.
The region’s six LLS pest animal controllers will now work side-by-side with private contractors on National Parks land, meaning on ground efforts will be doubled.
The dog trapping program will also be ramped up in August and September with community consultation events taking place across the South East and a coordinated, region-wide wild dog destruction blitz to take place.
NSW Forestry Corporation will also fund another trapper for the region.
Government will also appoint a designated regional wild dog coordinator-general to oversee operations in the South-East.
Five community information meetings are planned for the first week of August in Bega, Cooma, Yass, Braidwood and Nowra so community members can give feedback on the plan of action.
The meetings will be followed by planning sessions with the 13 wild dog groups in the South East.