NORTHERN Tablelands sheep producers are calling on government to take long-term action against a rising wild dog ambush in the area that's seen one woolgrower lose 250 head over 18 months.
In just four years the local Enmore Wild Dog Association has removed at least 40 wild dogs from the region after flocks had gone untouched for decades.
During the 1800s land and lease holders in the area built a historic collection of fences in suitable areas of steep terrain bordering Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.
But, with a growing trend of producers switching to cattle in recent times, maintaining it has become a forgotten priority.
Enmore Wild Dog Association secretary Gary Swanson said government needed to look at publicly funding the fence and tender the maintenance to a contractor.
“They are putting more baits out than ever but the wild dog problem is getting worse,” he said.
“The only way you are going to win the fight is they have really got to get serious about this fence and get people who do have an interest in it to be maintaining it.
“To make this work you have to actually have someone you are paying to do it. If it goes back to the landholder you might not feel like going to do it.”
Funding from Australian Wool Innovation allowed the Enmore Wild Dog Association to purchase traps and motion cameras, which have been utilised on the Armidale property of Lach Fulloon following a determined ambush.
Mr Fulloon shears about 9000 Merinos on the 1600 hectare property, Cressbrook, owned by his family for 110 years.
It wasn’t until 10 years ago that the property recorded its first dog attack, and in the last 18 months at least 250 head have been killed and 100 mauled, including the loss of a 2014 drop sire whom recently topped the New England Merino Sire Evaluation across multiple indexes.
Three of the five dogs detected on cameras have been accounted for but Mr Fulloon hasn’t gone six weeks without an attack.
Unable to put a figure on his stock losses, Mr Fulloon has spent $25,000 upgrading his own eastern boundary fence, which doesn’t border national parks.
But, exclusion fencing for the eastern New England, and around the parks, was the way to go, he said.
A large project of 80 to 100km around the gorge country could protect a major livestock pocket.
“East of us there is virtually no sheep any longer so we are pretty much the last frontier,” he said.
“If we get out of sheep there will be wild dogs spreading right through this central Northern Tablelands and New England area.”
A NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesperson wouldn’t comment on landholders’ fencing proposition but said they did assist direct neighbours with fencing materials.
Approximately five tonnes of baited material has been dropped on national park estate this year, with another 2.2 tonnes in spring, the spokesperson said.
Mr Fulloon has organised six dog drives with 12 to 14 local graziers, currently has 12 traps set on his properties and employed a wild dog hunter, but still can’t combat the problem.
“Everything that has been done currently has sort of been reactive,” he said.
“We wait for the killings, we employ wild dog trappers, do baiting programs.
“We really need to get proactive and on top of this situation. For me, I think exclusion fencing of the New England is the way to go.”
The Enmore Wild Dog Association will run a Wild Dog Awareness day on December 13 for local residents as they continue to overcome the issue.