By Paul Hemsley
The Queensland government has mounted an all-out assault on wild dogs ravaging regional areas by giving just over $700,000 in funding to local councils and Agforce to better control their numbers by baiting, trapping and euthanising the feral hounds.
Wild dogs have been a substantial problem for rural areas because of the threat they pose to valuable livestock as well as native wildlife though their attacks and interbreeding that has been “diluting” native dingo genetics.
The Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has previously found that wild dogs have caused annual losses of $33 million due to attacks on livestock.
The QDAFF has warned that wild dogs are commonly the result of animal dumping and commonly found around grazing land, cropping areas, rural-residential estates, bushland, and on the fringes of urban areas.
The issue has prompted the state government to fund councils to boost wild dog management programs in pastoral and peri-urban (spaces between a city’s outer suburb and the country side) areas across Queensland.
The programs are expected to involve local mapping and control in areas where wild dog numbers are concentrated and impacting communities.
In in terms of money councils from southern, central and north western Queensland seeking funding through expressions of interest will receive $250,000 for wild dog control projects.
Another $250,000 is available for councils in southern coastal areas to conduct projects such as mapping, building community skills and control in refuge areas.
The government is also providing $175,000 to the state’s agricultural peak body Agforce to help manage the state’s wild canine problem.
A Queensland government spokesperson said the culling of wild dogs will not involve shooting rather the process will involve baiting and trapping – followed by euthanasia. Baiting often involves using the poison sodium fluoroacetate (otherwise known as 1080) or strychnine.
However the use of these chemicals also poses the risk of killing untargeted animals. Strychnine has fewer restrictions than 1080, but the Queensland government has deemed it as less humane than 1080 because it has been found to leave animals conscious after consumption, with signs of pain, anxiety and violent muscle spasms.
The funding given to Agforce will be used to continue support for local community groups to be engaged in wild dog control; help councils set up regional Pest Animal Advisory Committees; work with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to co-ordinate wild dog control with neighbours; and using geographic information system technology to help stakeholders be more aware of wild dog behaviour.
Agforce’s funding will also be used to co-ordinate wild dog control activities on large tracts of land held by resource companies mining for coal seam gas.
Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, John McVeigh said concerted efforts over the past year have started to have “inroads” against the wild dog problem but pressure needs to be kept up to find new ways to reduce their numbers and impacts.
“Wild dogs in peri-urban areas are an emerging problem and we need to start marshalling our forces now before it becomes a significant control issue,” Mr McVeigh said.
Mr McVeigh also announced that the state government will be contributing $30,000 to conduct a feasibility study into barrier fences in the Blackall-Tambo, Barcaldine and Longreach Regional council areas.
He said ideally all councils should be using available resources and strategies to ensure a consistent approach.
“All of our hard work is undone if wild dogs are not controlled in adjoining council areas.”
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