By any measure, the control of wild dogs and other predators is an important issue for agriculture.
Production loss on livestock from predators, including disease transfer, was estimated to be $111 million nationally and $64 million in NSW alone in 2014.
Anecdotally the impact is much higher with major damage from hydatids.
However, accurate data has always been difficult to obtain.
In some regions, predators are the greatest threat to lamb survival rates with the success of cluster fencing in Queensland and WA, combined with other control measures, seen as a shining example of what can be achieved. The animal welfare benefits are obvious for both the animal and the stress on the producer themselves.
Some sheep producers may not be aware that there is an industry-driven National Wild Dog Action Plan which works in with, and provides resources for, community groups who rightly receive the recognition for control activity.
The plan is largely administered by Australian Wool Innovation, which provides much appreciated funding from federal and state governments (combined state agency funding is about $27 million per annum), and assistance from an impressive list of collaborators, including: Centre for Invasive Species Solutions; Cattle Council of Australia; Sheep Producers Australia; Wool Producers Australia; AWI; and MLA.
This model has overlapping effects in the control of foxes and other feral animals, with many of the processes now being put in place to control feral pigs.
This is a story that needs to be promoted not only for livestock production, but in saving our threatened wildlife species.
With the major loss of wildlife in the recent bushfires, and many predators being pushed out of national parks, there is hardly a more important time for the two sectors to have a major push to control feral predators.
The fires have destroyed much of the fencing that separates the wildlife zones from the production sector, so the two sectors literally need to address this together.
The livestock production industry has shown a willingness to pool resources and work collaboratively, and with the current threat to wildlife, the more this can be extended to save the already ravaged species, the better for all involved.
Visit the Pest Smart website (www.pestsmart.org.au) and search for information under the National Wild Dog Action Plan.
- Stephen Crisp is the Sheep Producers Australia acting CEO.