Gradual defeat of far west's wild dog pack

Far west, dogs on the run


A federal government grant has helped the battle against wild dogs in the west.


They're beautiful animals the dogs, but the destruction they cause can't be forgiven. - Wild dog trapper and tracker Wayne Preece

Trapper and tracker Wayne Preece with a wild dog. He says the photo gives people an idea of the size of the predators he is dealing with.

Trapper and tracker Wayne Preece with a wild dog. He says the photo gives people an idea of the size of the predators he is dealing with.

WHEN you talk about wild dogs, farmers of the Western Division are all ears, the dogs are an unpredictable hole in their business models.

Jim Strachan's place, Lakemere, is about 120 kilometres south-west of Bourke.

"You really need everyone involved," he said, of aerial baiting, farm monitoring and welcoming trappers onto properties.

"Because without it you won't get a dog."

In the worst days, a bit more than 18 months ago, Mr Strachan was losing five sheep a night to ewes that scanned 100 per cent, which is good for western country, and by the end of the long nights he ended up with 40pc to 50pc.

"We've lost a lot of sheep," the Merino breeder said. "The dogs are here and they're breeding, and the elimination process will be a long one."

It took trapper Jason Boede 12 days to hunt down a litter of two females and her pups.

Mr Boede, who is currently in the state's north, around the Hungerford floodplains, says if you haven't got meat in the Western Division there's not much left.

He said goats and sheep were particularly vulnerable to dogs that hunt in packs.

"We've got to go harder, the government must pour more money into it."

That's a matter not lost on Western Local Land Services, which teamed with councils of the west to organise the professional wild dog controller program.

Lobbying last year got the LLS and the councils $926,000 from the federal government for the western division.

That put six new trappers on the ground and it has made a difference.

They have been working now coming up four months. Mr Boede said trapping and bating went hand in hand.

"The government seems to have plenty of money and it is throwing it around," he said.

"Our budget is not very much.

"Trappers should be fully funded."

This is a situation appreciated by local government.

Bourke Shire Council mayor Barry Holman said the funding was greatly appreciated. "This can help alleviate some of the problem," he said.

At The Range, between White Cliffs and Wanarring, when dog trapper and tracker Wayne Preece is asked how many dogs are in his area he replies dryly: how long is a ball of string?

"I've seen properties that carried 50,000 sheep reduce to 2000," he said.

"We've got dogs coming in from South Australia and the Northern Territory, you might track one for 300km.

"You need to watch the waterholes, if you can get a seven-to-eight-year-old dog you know you're doing things right.

"They're basically Indonesian wolves, it's like anything on the planet, the smarter you are, the higher in the food chain you are, the more respect you have."

Mr Preece said Moomba Dump, South Australia, was one location where it was not uncommon to see many dogs in a night.

"There's no kangaroos or emus, and bilbies don't stand a chance," he said.


From the front page

Sponsored by