East Gippsland and NSW Landholders Impacted by Wild Dogs
2017 showed a dramatic increase in wild dog impacts across the Eastern NSW/Victoria border country. Escalation of attacks on livestock in areas that were previously lower risk have coincided with a number of factors that are of concern to landholders and the Landcare movement.
The dynamics of feral dogs is well documented, and at least two factors standout in the pulse of dog numbers and behaviour. Debate exists on the merits of laying toxic baits for dogs in a landscape that includes large tracts of public forests (reserve and production areas), fringed by long standing sheep and cattle farms. Where many of the sheep enterprises once thrived, numerous producers have downsized or withdrawn from sheep production due to the constant wild dog predation. Discussion with landholders and pest experts suggests that entrenched mound baiting systems are less effective with smart dogs, and an over-reliance on this practice has emerged due to cost and access pressures for expert dog trappers. A number of the links on this page provide a perspective on the merits of baiting programs versus targeted trapping and shooting, and this is best captured on a program aired by ABC Landline, which can be viewed on this link...ABC Landline - Wild Dog Bait
A second factor that appears to have increased wild dog presence and behaviour has been the response to large and destructive bushfires in the Victorian high country and Alpine areas of NSW. During the period 2003-2014, successive intense fires converted forest and reserves to highly impacted ecosystems. Particularly in response to the Deddick Trail fire of 2014, the devastation of wildlife has pushed active wild dogs onto farmland and forest fringe country. The dense fire recovery vegetation provides structured cover for the predatory dogs, enabling them mobility with limited detection, providing breeding habitat, and enabling dogs to strike on livestock and retreat with a degree of safety. Couple this situation with learned behaviours of bait avoidance, and an explanation of the increasing wild dog threat in the Eastern NSW/Victoria border country emerges.
While these dynamics are playing havoc with graziers in our area, the peri-urban impacts of wild dog attacks has been raised by many communities, including reported dog attacks on pets and people.
Large male dog responsible for attacks on sheep. Trapped by Bill Stevenson near Bombala, NSW