Plan to muzzle wild dogs

Plan to muzzle wild dogs


Sheep
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Lobby groups have welcomed State government backing to implement the WA Wild Dog Action Plan for 2016-2021.

LOBBY groups have welcomed State government backing to implement the WA Wild Dog Action Plan for 2016-2021.

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Ross Wood (left), Terry Redmand and Mark Lewis

Ross Wood (left), Terry Redmand and Mark Lewis

On Monday the government announced $19.94 million in funding to support WA's livestock industry and help landowners to control predatory wild dogs and other agricultural pests in regional areas.

The plan is designed to revitalise and foster the growth of pastoral, agricultural and tourism industries.

WAFarmers Livestock Council president John Wallace said the approval of the plan and additional funding for cell or cluster fencing was the culmination of extensive work by industry in this area.

"The State spends about $8.8m per year on wild dog management, with the cost of maintaining the 1170 kilometre State Barrier Fence sitting at about $200,000 per annum," Mr Wallace said.

"By complementing these maintenance activities with the injection of funds from the State government we can be confident that we can reduce the impact of wild dogs on agricultural production and biodiversity.

"While there is a need to prevent wild dogs getting within the fence, we acknowledge the need for a collaborative approach from industries, government and the communities inside the fence to contribute to the prevention of wild dog incursion, so we look forward to working with other stakeholders to put this plan into action."

Mr Wallace acknowledged the work of WAFarmers Livestock Council member Scott Pickering, who is the WAFarmers wild dog representative on the National Wild Dog Action Plan Consultative Committee and the WA Wild Dog Action Plan Advisory Group, and support from WAFarmers Livestock Council member John Nankivell.

Agriculture and Food Minister Mark Lewis said the funding would implement key recommendations.

He said the comprehensive industry-led plan aimed to reduce the economic and social impact of wild dogs.

"Wild dog predation on livestock is taking a heavy economic and emotional toll on livestock producers in affected pastoral and agricultural areas," Mr Lewis said.

"The action plan recognises the importance of bringing together industry, government and the community to co-ordinate efforts to control wild dogs and to protect and revitalise our pastoral, agricultural and regional tourism industries.

"A key step is the formation of the WA Wild Dog Alliance to provide industry-based leadership to implement the plan.

"This includes boosting support for existing biosecurity groups which have formed to control wild dogs and other pests.

"There is also on-going funding for professional doggers."

The plan also includes $1.5m for competitive grants for cell or cluster fencing.

Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the plan, which identified further upgrades and extensions to the barrier fence in the southern agricultural area, was central to effective control.

He said the fence had undergone significant improvements in recent years to become a more effective wild dog barrier.

"I'm pleased to see Royalties for Regions funding going towards addressing an issue that has been such a long-term problem for the agricultural sector," Mr Redman said.

Some of the key actions include establishing a WA Wild Dog Alliance to provide integration and alignment of the WA biosecurity groups and the National Wild Dog Action Plan and investing in efficient management of biosecurity groups to ensure co-ordinated and cost-effective wild dog management in each region.

It aims to repair and replace 405km of the existing fence with shared funding from federal and State governments and commit to a handover for maintaining the integrity of the fence by investing in maintenance for the next three years while the Wild Dog Alliance determines options for assuming full responsibility.

The plan will identify gaps in research and development, including surveillance technology.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook said the plan was a positive step forward.

"We as an association need a little bit of time to go through this and discuss it with affected members to work out how far reaching this will be," Mr Seabrook said.

"It is a good thing and a positive step forward, but we need to look at it more closely to see those finer details and to see if the plan will cut it or not."

Mr Seabrook said the PGA would soon meet to determine if the plan "is sufficient to achieve the stated goal of limiting the amount of dogs in the Rangelands to an acceptable level".

"We will meet and digest this, but overall it is a positive step in the right direction," he said.

Mining and Pastoral Region MLC Dave Grills said the plan was an important step towards reviving the pastoral industry in the Goldfields and Mid-West.

"The southern Rangelands pastoral industry has been severely affected by wild dog predation, particularly over the past several decades, to the point where small stock has been reduced to insignificant numbers in all but the southern Murchison and west Gascoyne," Mr Grills said.

He said stock losses from wild dogs in WA were estimated to be up to $25m a year.

Nationals WA candidate for Kalgoorlie Tony Crook said he was pleased to see government and industry work together to restore the viability of small stock pastoralism in the southern Rangelands.

"As a former pastoralist, I have seen first-hand the destructive and heartbreaking economic, social and environment impact of wild dogs in places such as the Goldfields," Mr Crook said.

He said the plan would result in real action on the ground and address what had been a long-running problem for the pastoral industry.

"Reviving the southern Rangelands pastoral industry will provide significant economic and social benefits for communities in the region," Mr Crooke said.

The WA Wild Dog Action Plan 2016-2021 was developed by the Wild Dog Action Group, chaired by pastoralist Justin Steadman.

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