Wild Dog & Pest Control

DEECA response to north-west Vic dog attacks is cameras

Terry Sim, April 12, 2024

Wild dogs are moving south. Image – PIRSA.

THE Victorian Government has delayed a north-west sheep producer’s wildlife control permit application while it awaits photographic evidence that dingoes or wild dogs are responsible for killing sheep on his property.

About three weeks after West Wimmera farmer Alan Bennett reported wild dogs or dingoes had killed sheep on his property bordering the Big Desert Wilderness Park, the Department of Energy, Environment, Climate Action has not acted to prevent further dog attacks on livestock.

The department initially advised Mr Bennett to store mauled sheep for DNA swabbing and now has erected cameras in areas where dog tracks have been found, but Mr Bennett cannot bait or shoot marauding wild dogs without a control permit.

“All I’ve heard (from a Grampians regional DEECA manager) is that it (the permit) is in progress and it’s been kicked up to the state level.”

The mixed farmer believes he could have lost about 30 Merino ewes from dog attacks in the past three weeks, valued at about $4500, but other stressed surviving ewes would also have aborted lambs.

“And how do you put a cost on the stress and stuff that we’ve gone through?

”How do you put a cost on the amount of time and effort I’ve put into this in trying to get some attention about it and dealing with these DEECA people”, he said.

“All this damage that’s occurred since I put the (permit) application in will just continue; if it’s taken almost three weeks for them to get to this point and they are still no closer to giving me an answer, what actually are they waiting for?”

Victoria’s Wildlife Act (1975) Order In Council effectively ‘unprotected’ dingoes on private land, and on public land within 3km of the private land boundaries to public lands, enabling baiting and trapping until 14 March, when the Victorian Government removed the order in north-west Victoria. On 1 October 2024 the government has said it will do the same in eastern Victoria.

What the government is saying

The Victorian Government this week would not specify what it was advising north-west Victorian producers who undergo wild dog attacks, but a spokesperson told Sheep Central that “all applications made to the conservation regulator are assessed on a case-by-case basis and account for the impacts of wildlife on individual landholders and their livestock.”

“Farmers will be supported by a $550,000 investment to reduce pressures associated with vertebrate pest species such as foxes, feral pigs and feral goats, through collaborative, cross tenure management,” the spokesperson went on to say.

A ‘background’ statement from the government said its conservation regulator has received an application for an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) permit to lethally control a dingo in the state’s north-west, “but will not comment on the specifics of the application as it is a currently under active consideration.”

A targeted $550,000 pilot program will be delivered to farmers in Victoria’s north west over the next 12 months, the government said.

The program will support north-west farmers and build awareness of control options to protect livestock from predation on private land. It will promote collaborative, cross-tenure management across an expanded range of pest vertebrate species, including foxes, feral goats and feral pigs, the government statement said, though curiously did not mention wild dogs. The program will include information on exclusionary fencing and use of guardian animals.

This targeted support will assist Victorian farmers and bolster the Agricultural sector’s preparedness and resilience to biosecurity threats. All farmers are encouraged to use non-lethal control measures such as exclusion fencing, protective on-farm animal husbandry practices and guardian animals (such as Maremma dogs) as means of reducing the impacts of the predation of livestock at a local level.

Where wildlife is negatively impacting crops, pasture, infrastructure, human safety or biodiversity values, landowners can apply to the Conservation Regulator for an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) permit. An application for an ATCW must meet the requirements of the Wildlife Act 1975 and demonstrate all practical non-lethal wildlife control methods have been explored.

The Conservation Regulator will assess all applications for lethal control of dingoes in the context of new scientific advice on the imminent extinction risk facing the species in the north-west, the background statement concluded.

No closer to a control solution

Mr Bennett told Sheep Central yesterday he felt no closer to obtaining a control permit with a DEECA dogger from Mildura spending two days this week setting up cameras on his and a neighbour’s property to gather evidence that dogs are coming in.

“No-one has got back to me, I’m just putting one and one together as to why he is doing that.”

“Somehow they won’t accept my word that it’s happening,” he said.

“And you can see that tracks on the ground and this bloke found fresh tracks near a water trough – it’s all about arse-covering, that’s why they wanted those DNA swabs from a sheep, they want irrefutable evidence that it is dogs that are doing the damage and we are approaching three weeks since I first put the (control permit) application in.”

Mr Bennett was unable to store mauled sheep for DNA swabbing and DEECA has not sent anyone to do the sample collection.

The farmer said the promised $550,000 in ‘targeted support’ is just a rollout of information to tell him how to put exclusion fencing up and use guardian dogs.

“All this stuff is supposed to happen in the future, well they’ve created the problem right now – no-one is addressing the problem right now.

“If they were going to do this (target support over the next 12 months) why did they make this (unprotection order) decision and bang, a cliff face, and there is no safety net at the bottom – we just walk off the cliff? he asked.

On the issue of seeking compensation for his costs, Mr Bennett said “it’s like putting the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff – stop the sheep from running off the cliff for a start would be good.”

Mr Bennett said after spending years looking after his sheep, the randomness of dog attacks made him feel powerless.

“We are completely powerless to do anything.”

However, Mr Bennett’s daughter has spent three days repairing an existing netting fence boundary with the park and he plans to put up about eight kilometres of exclusion fencing at about $15,000-plus a kilometre, but believes he might have to swap from sheep to cropping and cattle on the property.

“This is what no-one gets, this is the tip of the iceberg; this is just the beginning.

“The dogs will live in the scrub, come out drink our water eat our sheep and go back, and the population will just explode.”

He said the end of the unprotection order and the proximity of livestock and stock water creates an artificial environment for the wild dogs or dingoes, effectively providing the opportunity and training for increased livestock predation.

North-east producers launch petition to support wild dog management program

Mr Bennett’s frustration continues as a north-west Victorian sheep producer also concerned about the removal of the unprotection order in his region starts a petition seeking support to request the Victorian Government maintain the state’s wild dog management program in its current form.

The petition launched on change.org yesterday by Tallangatta sheep producer Aaron Gordon, a member of the NE Wild Dog Action Group, had received 615 signatures of support by 3.30pm today.

Mr Gordon said petition’s purpose is to demonstrate to policy makers that there are a lot of people affected by wild dogs and that there is support for the current management program.

He said impact of ending the control program will be devastating, with the proposed removal of the unprotection order on 1 October exposing a large part of eastern and central Victoria to uncontrolled wild dog incursions.

“They won’t stop – they’ll keep spreading with no pressure on them as they currently have.”

The petition preamble says “the current wild dog management program involves professionally trained wild dog controllers working on private land and a small portion of government land in the 3km Livestock Protection Buffer zone that is only 1.6 million of the 4.7 million hectares of public lands in the east and north-west of the state, leaving over 3.1 million hectares of public lands including state forestand national parks for wild dogs to roam.

Wild dogs are killers both of native wildlife, domestic livestock, pets and even guardian animals as well as a threat to humans and a biosecurity risk.

All other states in Australia classify wild dogs as a feral pest and actively seek to remove them from the ecosystem through coordinated efforts similar to what is currently in place in Victoria. As Victorian farmers, we simply wish for the Wild Dog Control program to continue as currently operating as it has reduced livestock losses by 75% since its inception.

“Seven months ago the Victorian Government promised consultation and further research, but there has been no consultation and nothing shared regarding the research but a sudden announcement that “dingoes” in NW Victoria on both public and private land will now be protected. We feel that more Victorian government broken promises are ahead.”


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  1. Peter Star, April 12, 2024

    Put a dead sheep with its guts hanging out in your freezer until some clown from DEECA can come and take a sample to tell you if it’s killer is a dingo or a wild dog.
    How stupid and how unhygienic.
    DEECA has protected every type of dog on public land in north-west Victoria so it has to be a dingo.
    They need to be proactive and give NW landholders an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) permit upon application, so they don’t have to wait and be still waiting for over three weeks as in Alan Bennett’s case, and lose over 30 sheep with potentially more killing to occur with no means of taking action.
    Please support the petition coming out of north-east Victoria.

    • Ellisha Martion, April 15, 2024

      Hi Peter,
      If you did some research, you’d know that all samples tested from north-west Victoria have been PURE DINGO and that there are potentially only 40 dingoes left here in the Big Desert/Wyperfeld parks.
      The Big Desert dingoes are genetically distinct, so there is no way to get their genetics back once they’ve been locally extinct. These dingoes have been here for thousands of years and have adapted and mapped out how to survive in this harsh environment.
      You’d also know that roaming dogs are a council/shire issue, not DEECA’s.

    • Melinda Browning, April 13, 2024

      Hi Peter. Every type of ‘dog’ living wild in north-west Victoria are critically endangered, genetically distinct, geographically isolated, pure dingoes, with an estimated 40 left in the wild. The scientific evidence (tested to 195,000 DNA markers) is irrefutable. Would you have the same attitude if they were a species of critically endangered wolf, tiger, lion or a thylacine? Do you have any empathy for the traditional owners – the Wotjobaluk Nations – for which these unique ‘Wilkerr’ dingoes are a culturally significant species? The reason why ‘reported’ livestock losses are not believed without evidence is that Freedom Of Information documents gathered over many decades have proven that raw data relating to livestock losses to predation and the ‘reported’ losses never match up, with the latter being grossly exaggerated. Plus the majority of raw data entries are highly suspect. Also livestock losses to predation are miniscule compared to losses from exposure, starvation, dystocia, mismothering etc. I also suggest that if some or all livestock producers in the region have, to-date, relied solely on killing critically endangered dingoes in an attempt to protect sheep, then they might like to take some responsibility and employ effective non-lethal solutions. There are many other options other than $15,000/km fencing that can be effective; such as livestock guardian animals, fox lights, electric fencing and fladry. Here’s an idea, how about farmers put some pressure on the Australian Wool Innovation and/or Meat & Livestock Australia to redirect the millions of dollars spent on poisoning dingoes and reinvest it into trialling and testing emerging non-lethal livestock protection solutions? Surveys show that 86 percent of Australians love dingoes and want to see them protected. These ‘Wilkerr’ dingoes are unique and have performed the role of protecting the biodiversity on Wotjobaluk country for thousands of years. Without dingoes, the Big Desert region will become overrun with feral species – foxes, cats, rabbits etc – and native species down the food chain, that are already struggling to survive, will be lost for ever. https://hsi.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/HSI-Predator-Smart-Farming-Digital.pdf Cheers Mel

      • Peter Star, April 15, 2024

        Hi Mel. It’s great to see that you have such passion about preserving dingoes in north-west Victoria, but I would remind you that the estimate was between 40 and 260 dogs and not set at 40. You refer to the thylacine. Can you tell me if the dingo was responsible for its extinction on mainland Australia long before European settlement? It would rude and ignorant of me not to respect and have empathy for Wotjobaluk Nations, but I question your empathy for the livestock owners who daily have to deal with dead and maimed animals on their property and the effect that it has on their mental health and economic viability. Good for you that you have the time and resources to access FOI documents, but I question the independent objectivity of your analysis and your suggestions of impropriety. From experience, the majority of non-lethal methods that you have mentioned do not work. In north-east Victoria, landholders with the best maintained electric fences coupled with guardian dogs will admit that this system is not 100 percent effective and they rely heavily on the actions of the wild dog controllers in the public land that borders them. You are very concerned about the extremes of animal husbandry, when I can assure you that the vast majority of Australia livestock producers do their utmost to prevent these issues. Here’s a challenge for you: try ridding dingoes of the animal-borne and zoonotic diseases such as hydatids, giardia, leptospirosis and the protozoan parasite neospora caninum. How AWI and MLA spend their funds is a matter for their boards and committees to determine and in due course they will allocate funding to projects that are worthy of consideration. Your notion of dingoes controlling foxes and cats is questionable and I would challenge you to produce unbiased peer-reviewed research on this issue. Finally, can you please tell me how the dingo can remain as an endangered and protected species in Victoria when the Australian Faunal Directory, the Australian Mammal Society, and Museums Victoria all list the dingo as Canis familiaris or domestic dog? Cheers Peter

      • Glenn Nix, April 14, 2024

        Fox lights really ? How many thousands per farm? Foxes get used to them and will ignore them. How many thousands of companion animals will be needed? Hint: they get overwhelmed and outnumbered by packs. With phone cameras, why do you still accuse farmers of lying and over-reporting? Why do farmers need to store everything in cool rooms for weeks to be believed?

        • Leigh Mullan, April 15, 2024

          Glenn, why are farmers being accused of over-reporting and lying?

          Because official predation and damage data has been obtained under Freedom of Information applications and the actual reports of death and damage due to predation do not match the ‘tall tale’ pub stories and hysterical ‘alternative facts’ we hear presented by these parties.

          Farmers are now finally being told to present facts and evidence of predation stock loss before they will be permitted to slaughter a protected and ecologically vital, culturally significant native species.

          You want to kill Dingoes? Prove they are ‘guilty’ of the accusations.
          Cut the ‘big bad wolf’ wild dogma. We have heard that scary child’s tale before.

          • Glenn Nix, April 15, 2024

            Many things can kill young lambs, this not what is being talked about. Sheep opened up and guts dragged out — that’s not a crow or a fox. Eagles like them dead for longer. It takes a bit to take down big healthy sheep. Dingoes are smart — you are not likely to catch them in the act like a town dog. Surely, if you’ve got 30 dead sheep not all need to go in freezer for DNA? Photos and a couple not good enough? And why the lengthy delays? Are they wanting more to cark it? In the era of ‘me too’ can we not have ‘farmers too’?

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