Wild dog problem increases

SOME land and stock owners are reluctant to bait for wild dogs because they fear it will lead to increases in numbers of kangaroos and feral pests, competing for food.

This is the view of department of Primary Industries researchers Peter Fleming and Guy Ballard, who are working on two projects that will attempt to reverse perceptions of the ‘‘negative’’ impacts of baiting.

One perception was the belief that controlling wild dogs would lead to an increase in populations of kangaroos that lead to competition for feed, and other destructive feral animals.

‘‘In recent years we’ve encountered growing numbers of public and private land managers reluctant to participate in control programs because of a perception that killing dogs will have a negative impact on the environment or their enterprise,’’ Dr Fleming said.

‘‘These concerns are undermining efforts to protect livestock, wildlife and domestic pets from wild dog attacks.’’

Dr Fleming said landowners acted if they started to see dead calves but the researchers knew of sites where people fed wild dogs.

‘‘No one owns the dogs. Some are dingoes and some are just mongrels,’’ he said.

Every landowner was legally responsible for controlling wild dogs and in NSW all native animals, including dingoes, were protected.

‘‘There is a debate about the role of dingoes and other wild animals in the natural system, especially in places such as private conservation areas, national parks and state forests.’’ 

Dr Fleming said the use of the poison 1080, which many people believed threatened  native animals and endangered pet dogs, was another source of ‘‘bad publicity’’.

   The poison was a ‘‘humane’’ way of controlling wild dogs and was ‘‘highly selective’’.

Dr Fleming said the distribution of wild dogs in NSW was broadening  and their numbers increasing.

Control was most difficult in the urban fringe, he added.

The research project will assess the environmental, social and economic effects of wild-dog control programs.

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