For many years now, wild dogs have been a major problem for all grazing industries in Australia. The issue is not just a matter of direct stock and financial losses, although these losses run into many millions of dollars each year; wild dogs are also increasingly acknowledged as a source of spread for serious animal-borne diseases. They are highly damaging to regional economies, to local wildlife, and are a significant animal welfare concern.
A national survey conducted in 2014/15 has shown:
- average stock losses and control costs for a small property were $22,900 per annum, midrange properties $166,000 per annum, and large (pastoral) properties $1,940,000 per annum
- local community based wild dog management groups invested $10,000 to $100,000 per annum
- regional wild dog management groups invested $100,000 to $500,000 per annum
- combined State agency annual expenditure on wild dog management activities reported at more than $27,000,000 per annum
- substantial voluntary work and equipment contributed by individuals is excluded from these figures as is any multiplier cost to regional economies.
The figures justify the response by Wool Producers Australia to initiate the development of the National Wild Dog Action Plan (the Plan) in February 2013. Its aim was to bring all livestock peak bodies, research organisations and Commonwealth/State and Territory governments to a consensus on an approach to managing the threat of wild dogs.
The Plan’s development showcases how a government/industry collaboration can quickly harness both goodwill and action against threats to a sustainable Australian agriculture industry. Following 12 months of development and three months gaining support from all of the Australian Agriculture Ministers, the Plan was officially launched by the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP in July 2014 on behalf of all jurisdictions.
The Plan has an initial five-year timeframe. Its implementation is project managed through Wild Dog Management Projects Stage 1 and Stage 2. Stage 1 started in July 2014 and concluded in June 2015. Stage 2 started in October 2015 and will conclude May 2017. These projects are funded by the Australian Government with Stage 2 also receiving funding from the Western Australian Government. They are also generously supported by the livestock producers, their representative organisations, researchers, government agencies and other organisations that give their time to progress the projects.