Fence rebate calls grow as impact of wild dogs hits home

Wild dogs impacts prompts calls for government dog fence rebates

Sheep
John O'Reilly of Redbank, Hargraves has seen a dramatic increase in lambing numbers after installing a wild-dog fence. Photo: Billy Jupp

John O'Reilly of Redbank, Hargraves has seen a dramatic increase in lambing numbers after installing a wild-dog fence. Photo: Billy Jupp

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Farmers across the state are feeling the impacts of wild dogs.

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THE impact caused by wild dogs has left farmers across the state pulling out all the stops to control the pests.

Measures such as aerial baiting and trapping have been implemented by the state government, but some producers are calling for more to be done.

One such farmer is John O'Reilly of Redbank, Hargraves who has seen a dramatic increase in lambing numbers due to the installation of a new wild dog fence.

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Now, Mr O'Reilly's lamb survival numbers have risen from 90 to 600 lambs since the installation of the fence last year and he believes a rebate system may entice more farmers to install fences.

"I had to do something or sell up, it basically got to that point," Mr O'Reilly said.

"It is expensive to put a dog fence up but we went from 90 lambs, to 180 lambs to 600 lambs from the same flock of ewes since the fence went up.

"We didn't have a fence but we are sure glad we've got one now, it's pretty simple in that the fence is an offset with four wires that comes down on an angle from your normal fence but it makes a massive difference."

While baiting programs have made a considerable difference in Mr O'Reilly's district, not all landholders are taking part.

"It is everyone's job to help control pests and to bait, however not everyone is doing it around here," he said.

"There are quite a few different hobby farmers and recreational landholders in our district, who pretty much only want the land to be able to hunt on it, so they aren't going to bait their properties, which makes our lives harder."

Hargraves-Hill End Wild Dog Group chairman Greg Lawson of Glenfoyle, Grattai believes current wild dog control strategies are making a positive impact but more can be done. Photo: Billy Jupp

Hargraves-Hill End Wild Dog Group chairman Greg Lawson of Glenfoyle, Grattai believes current wild dog control strategies are making a positive impact but more can be done. Photo: Billy Jupp

Hargraves-Hill End Wild Dog Group chairman Greg Lawson echoed Mr O'Reilly's sentiments saying it was important for landholders to take action ahead of the pest's breeding season.

"We have a lot of cameras out at the moment monitoring the movement of wild dogs as we approach mating season," Mr Lawson said.

"At the moment, we have a program going with our Local Land Services (LLS) bringing in trappers for the next six weeks or more to go to hotspots in the bush.

"We're also doing some aerial baits with the LLS, which seems to be helping to target those bad zones, as well as some ground baiting and getting our local farmers on board to help take on the issue.

"We have a lot of absentee landholders down our way now so we are doing what we can to educate them on what's happening."

Mr Lawson said while baiting and trapping programs were working, rebates for fences would help farmers tackle the issue of wild dogs.

"The government did do rebates of two thirds of the costs on some fences in our district but it just comes down to how much they can afford and how sustainable it is to do that," he said.

"I think it would certainly help a lot of people in our district, as would permanent trappers on the ground to let people on the absentee blocks know they are around.

"Having said that, I think it is only fair to point out the government has done a great job funding aerial and ground baiting, which have made a significant difference."

So widespread is the problem, it has impacted the way Wollomombi farmer Kate Saunders manages her property.

However, as well as a dog fences, Mrs Saunders said farm management was also key to helping combat the issue.

"We're on a property that is more or less just off the Cathedral Rock National Park," Mrs Saunders said.

"We run cattle on the back part of the property and have the sheep closer to the front so it makes it a bit easier to control them.

"Management is key to helping to limit the damage they can cause, but I certainly think there is more that could be done from a government level to help farmers tackle the issue."

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall says there is government help on offer to farmers battling pest issues. Photo: Supplied

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall says there is government help on offer to farmers battling pest issues. Photo: Supplied

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said government loans were on offer to help farmers tackle pests.

"Wild dogs are a scourge on our primary producers - costing the industry more than $25 million a year in lost stock and damages," Mr Marshall said.

"In response, we are building the world's longest wild dog fence to stop these pests streaming over the Queensland and South Australia borders.

"Once complete, it will have doubled in length, stretching 1325km and providing a physical barrier which enables us to permanently knockdown these pests.

"Farmers have access to two popular support schemes; the Farm Innovation Fund, which provides an up-to $1 million low-interest loan, and the Drought Assistance Fund which provides a $100,000 interest-free loan to help landholders invest in on-farm infrastructure such as exclusion fencing."

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