PROFESSIONAL Wild Dog Controllers engaged in a unique community-led program in the Upper Hunter have removed the 100th problem wild dog from the district.
The Professional Wild Dog Controller Program helps protect sheep and cattle covering more than 140,000 hectares in the region.
The district’s sheep meat and wool industry alone is valued at nearly $15 million.
The initiative is a partnership between the Hunter Valley Combined Wild Dog Association (containing 11 member organisations), Hunter Local Land Services and a number of major investors including Australian Wool Innovation, Glencore, Bengalla, and Yancoal with support from National Parks, Forestry Corporation, Upper Hunter County Council and FeralScan.
Invasive species team leader for Hunter Local Land Services Luke Booth said the program had successfully targeted problem dogs, in what had been a very challenging year, given the ongoing drought.
“We’ve worked with nearly 50 producers on trapping programs to help protect 37,800 sheep and 13,900 cattle in the Upper Hunter that were under attack from wild dogs,” he explained.
“On top of that there have been 14 strategic programs, each up to a month long, targeting known wild dog hotspots often in remote locations across the district.
“Reaching the milestone of removing 100 problem dogs is a real success story for the region, particularly given the issues facing local farmers with the drought – but we won’t be stopping there.”
Hunter Valley Combined Wild Dog Association spokesman Peter Campbell said the program had become a vital partnership in the Upper Hunter.
“Controlling 100 dogs over the last year is a great result and testament to the level of collaboration between landholders, Local Land Services and the stakeholders,” he said.
“It’s also recognition of the high level of skills of the professional controllers, for them to deliver such a good result.
“The association made a conscious effort to employ trappers with a high skillset, and this has paid off with the number of dogs already controlled.”
The Professional Wild Dog Controller Program has been running since September 2017, and was developed after a successful trial using professional trappers.
The initial four-year program is worth $1 million.
It’s just one part of Hunter Local Land Services strategic approach to controlling wild dogs.
“We want to continue working with the community to control pest animals, including wild dogs, which is why we have continually increased operational funds each year for pest control,” Mr Booth said.
“This has enabled us to undertake additional ground and aerial baiting programs, two aerial shooting programs and more strategic programs with landholders across the region, based on best management plans devised with local communities and wild dog associations.”