As landowners in the Northern Tablelands are set to be surveyed on wild dog management it’s been revealed that at least 3870 head of livestock were killed by wild dogs in the New England area in the past two financial years.
Experts say the reported number of losses is only the tip of the iceberg as many landowners don’t report losses to Local Land Services.
Also, two New England farmers have been attacked by wild dogs recently, a farmer from Ebor bailed up by a pack of wild dogs as he tried to protect his farm dog, while a dog owner at Mummulgum, near Casino, was injured as she tried to save her fox terriers as wild dogs attacked, killing nine of her pet dogs.
The attacks come as the Department of Primary Industries and LLS try to get a better picture of how the “significant” wild dog problem in the New England should be handled.
The DPI announced this week it was starting a survey of at least 800 farmers and residents over two weeks, starting from early November.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) economist, Salahadin Khairo, said the survey was designed to find areas where wild dogs impact on local communities and identify the best management options.
“We are targeting a diverse community of producers, small landholders and people living in peri-urban areas where wild dogs are found,” Mr Khairo said.
“Up to 800 local residents will be contacted by email, mobile and landline telephone services and by post to ensure we reach people whose lives are affected by wild dogs.”
The survey is being conducted through a University of New England research project in collaboration with north-eastern NSW wild dog facilitator, David Worsley.
Mr Worsley revealed that there were 3870 head of livestock killed by wild dog attacks from June 2015 to June 2017.
Of these 3814 were sheep and 56 were cattle.
“These figures are obviously less than the actual losses. Because of what happens we are not getting the full picture,” he said.
Mr Worsley works independently, funded by industry but working with all stakeholders to achieve consensus on wild dog control.
He said baiting was still the bread and butter way to control wild dogs. Farmers had to look outwards as much as inside their boundaries to control wild dogs. The recent attacks on people were alarming and the farmer at Ebor was “lucky” when bailed up by the wild dogs, which are getting more adventurous, entering peri-urban areas.
Mr Worsley was also concerned that regional manager cutbacks inside the National Parks and Wildlife Service would impact on wild dog controls, with less people on the ground in parks.
A great step forward has been the creation of 40 wild dog management groups in the New England area, each with their own chain of command, able to adapt to local issues.
Regional pest control plans were also due to be developed under new NSW Biosecurity legislation, which would allow regions to respond to specific issues in their area..
The normal wild dog was about 60 per cent dingo. Many were solitary but they also sometimes roamed in packs.
NSW Northern Tablelands and North Coast residents who would like to take the survey or get more information on the project should contact Salahadin Khairo (02) 6391 3753.