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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2013
26 SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2013 This comes at a time when many landholders have become exasperated with a lack of participation from some landholders in wild dog programs. The demise of the pastoral sheep industry can be averted and restored to a viable sustainable industry through a substantial and coordinated effort that is getting underway between landholders, government, industry and researchers to battle the wild dog problem. Research by the Invasive Animals CRC concludes that unless wild dogs and sheep are separated, wild dogs will continue to have a substantial impact on sheep production. All efforts should be made to keep wild dogs out of sheep grazing country if we want the industry to continue across the vast pastoral areas of Australia. While wild dogs are not the sole cause for the contraction of the sheep industry, they are one of the major causes. Consequently, without substantial effort into integrated wild dog control programs, then, at the rate the industry is presently contracting, the rangeland sheep grazing industry will likely disappear within 30 to 40 years. Initiatives to combat wild dogs include the ongoing operation of the National Wild Dog Facilitator, supported by the Invasive Animals CRC and funded by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI). Meat & Livestock Australia is also a co-funder of wild dog research by the Invasive Animals CRC. Wild dog predation has contributed substantially to the historical contraction of the sheep industry to its present-day distribution, which is almost exclusively confined to areas within fenced wild dog exclusion zones. The pattern of sheep industry decline, evident for more than 100 years outside the exclusion zones, is presently continuing inside the exclusion zones, particularly in Queensland where sheep numbers had declined by 70% since the mid 1990s. This is higher than the national average over this time, when sheep numbers have declined by more than 40%. The retraction of the sheep industry away from rangeland grazing regions where wild dog predation now occurs, is increasing for two primary reasons. First, the availability of on-farm labour is now at an all-time low, so there are fewer people available to detect wild dogs and attacks on sheep, and then remove or deter them. Second, and most importantly, the use of netting rabbit-proof fences has diminished dramatically in the pastoral regions, either through removal or replacement with strand wire stock fences. These types of fences are no barrier to the movement of wild dogs within and between holdings and regions. Together, these two changes have led to fewer wild dogs being removed and has also allowed wild dogs to quickly reinvade areas where control has occurred or to expand into areas from where they had been previously exterminated. There are examples of successful cooperative wild dog management programs in eastern NSW and northern South Australia. In the Queensland rangelands, the Paroo Shire’s wild dog management plan is a model that is being applied across shire boundaries and into the Western Division of NSW. It can be done because it has been done before. The numbers of wild dogs and losses being reported in the Western Division of NSW have not been seen for generations because of the success of control efforts 50-100 years ago. Cooperation among land managers is even more important these days because there are fewer eyes looking for wild dogs and their impacts on livestock. Pending control innovations from research agencies such as Invasive Animals CRC will also provide a critical boost to the wild canid control toolbox available to land managers when used in a best practice setting. There are new toxins and delivery technologies in the IACRC pipeline (including PAPP–para-aminopropiophenone, which is a safe, fast and humane poison that comes with an effective antidote) which may still be some years away, but that commercial availability is determined by the independent Government regulator review process. However, it is known that continued broadscale 1080 baiting of wild dogs and the adoption of such innovative technologies, including other measures in the development pipeline such as ejectors and more humane lethal trap devices, will be critical to halting the contraction in the sheep industry and turning it around. In association with fencing, things like 1080 baiting, guardian dogs, the widespread adoption of new technologies will be critical Help for sheep industry under attack from wild dogs and rabbits Wild dogs including dingoes may eliminate rangeland sheep production within 40 years, according to the Invasive Animals CRC.