Wild Dog & Pest Control

Dingo attacks increase in north-west Victoria as meetings called

Terry Sim, May 27, 2024

A dead Merino ewe killed in the latest wild dog attacks on Alan Bennett’s property.

NORTH-WEST Victorian sheep producers believe dingo attacks on livestock are increasing as the State Government starts to organise meetings with landowners.

Lawloit-based producer Alan Bennett said his sheep on land adjacent to the Big Desert Wilderness Park had been attacked weekly since the Victorian Government ended wild dog controls in the area in mid-March.

But there were several attacks last week, including among lambing ewes, he said.

“We’re probably up to about 40 ewes and I don’t know how many lambs we would have lost.”

He believes the dingoes are attacking the pregnant ewes after they fed every day.

The increased attacks have come just after Victorian Agriculture Minister Ros Spence told a recent Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing that the low frequency of dingo attacks in the north-west over the last 10 years — while the unprotection order was in place – were part of the reason for removing the order that halted wild dog control in the area.

In her evidence justifying the removal of the unprotection order, Ms Spence said the level of dingo predation in north-west Victoria ranged from around 10 to 68 predations annually over the last 10-year period.

Mr Bennett said the previous low predation levels showed that the wild dog management plan had been working.

At the same hearing Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action secretary John Bradley said: “The circumstances of the advice to remove the unprotection order were premised on the emerging evidence we had through camera traps.”

DEECA has evidence of dingo encroachment

A dingo captured by a DEECA camera on Alan Bennett’s property boundary to the Big Desert Wilderness Park in north-west Victoria.

A DEECA camera recorded a dingo on Mr Bennett’s property in early May, but this occurred after he was denied a permit by the Conservation Regulator to control the marauding dogs.

Mr Bennett believes 15 cameras were used in the 1417 square kilometre Big Desert Wilderness Park to collect data used to estimate dingo numbers and more are to be deployed.

“If there are 40 dogs in there, each dog has got roughly 20,000 hectares.”

The Victorian Government has refused to release an Arthur Rylah Institute report on the north-west dingo population that estimates there might be potentially as low as 40 dingoes in the park and Ms Spence stonewalled PAEC efforts for the data.

“I will ask for the research that can be made public to go to you,” Ms Spence told the committee.

Mr Bennett said Ms Spence’s comment rang alarm bells for him.

“That means they don’t want any scrutiny of it, or they don’t want to say how they established it, and I would say part of the reason is because they only had 15 cameras in the Big Desert.”

Mr Bennett said he is not aware of any cameras that are being deployed to help landowners prove their stock are being attacked.

“They’re essentially doing nothing – they don’t care.”

Mr Bennett said he has been told that Agriculture Victoria is organizing a series of meetings with landowners in the area, to be capped at eight producers per meeting, as part of the $550,000 package for a pilot program trialling non-lethal solutions to manage wild dogs.

Ms Spence told the PAEC hearing that the $550,000 will fund demonstration pilot fence so that farmers can ascertain what would be appropriate for their particular sites and see how effective it is in various terrain. She said there will be no specific grants for fencing or any other protection measures.

“So these people are travelling up from Melbourne and they will be paid their wages, their travel, accommodation and meals – that’s where the $550,000 is, and they’re going to have this meeting and get our opinions.

“Which means absolutely nothing because the decision will never be changed – it’s purely a boxing exercise,” he said.

“They can say now that they have consulted with landowners and we’re working to assist them.

“But nothing will change in my paddock now,” he said.

“They can have as many meetings as they like, nothing will stop those dogs killing my sheep until we get 38 kilometres of exclusion fence put up, then it will be just someone else’s sheep that get eaten.

“The whole onus, the whole cost is on us.”

A fence between Victoria and South Australia?

It was suggested to Ms Spence at the PAEC hearing that the South Australian government has asked for funding to jointly do a fence along the border and she replied: “That is not something that we are considering.”

A SA State Government spokesperson told Sheep Central the South Australian Government has not made any formal proposal to the Victorian Government to construct a dog fence between SA and Victoria and is currently considering its options.

“In South Australia, all wild dogs, including feral and wild living domestic dog breeds, dingoes, or hybrids of the two, are declared for destruction inside the SA Dog Fence.

“The decision to protect dingoes in north-western Victoria was unexpected,” the spokesperson said.

“The Victorian Government had previously reported that a review on dingo control programs was underway and would report back in October 2024.

“Staff from the SA Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) will continue to support the activities of the landscape boards, including through workshops to train landholders to detect and control wild dogs, as well as through the professional trapper program and in the supply of baits for large, coordinated aerial baiting programs.”

However, Mr Bennett favours SA and Victoria working together to extend the dingo habitat by putting a three kilometre buffer zone around the Ngarkat Conservation Park in South Australia and reinstating the north-west Victorian park buffer zone.

“That’s the only way you are going to give more environmental area to the dogs in the Big Desert.

“To me that’s the only solution possible.”

True cost will never be known

Mr Bennett said the ultimate cost of the Victorian Government’s decision on wild dog control in the north-west will never be known.

“I’ve had 40 (sheep die) in three months, and that’s just me.

“It could be a 1000 sheep a year and it could have been more, because I’ve got 5000 acres up there I haven’t got any sheep on,” he said.

“Whose responsibility is to control the dogs in the Big Desert, is it mine or the State Government’s?

“It’s the State Government’s, but who actually has to do it, me.”

Mr Bennett said believes his efforts at publicizing dingo attacks in the north-west might help continue the wild dog management program going in north-east Victoria.

However, he is telling north-west producers being attacked not to bother applying for a permit to control marauding dingoes.

“I’ve been told that no-one will get one (an authority to control wildlife permit).”

Dattuck district producer Tim Ferguson said he lost 15 sheep in one hit by two dogs or dingos 10 days ago, and another 10 ewes in the week following, and he expects more casualties among lambs and stressed sheep. The big difference is that there is now no support from authorities to control the dogs, he said, but he intends to apply for a control permit.

Mr Ferguson has ordered three Maremma guard dog pups and had moved sheep out of high-risk areas and put in crops east of the Wyperfield National Park. He believes the movement of dogs out of the parks will be more frequent.

“We’ll lose a percentage of our farm for livestock.”

Control permits on case-by-case basis

A Victorian Government spokesperson said 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 program will support northwest 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 program will include information on exclusionary fencing and use of guardian animals.

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.

Sheep Central has asked if DEECA had any camera surveillance footage or photographs indicating dingoes had moved onto private land and attacked livestock in the north-west, whether it was continuing camera surveillance in park areas and if it will be taking any responsibility, and/or compensating producers, for future dingo attacks on livestock in north-west Victoria and across the state as the dingoes spread out from the park areas.


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  1. Ellisha Martion, June 12, 2024

    No support? The dingo controllers/trappers from DEECA (Ag Department) along with the NWDAP were supposed to be advising and supporting non-lethal options the entire time.
    If farmers refused and ignored advice on non-lethal options, opting only for lethal control, then that’s on them.

  2. John and Rhonda Crawford, May 28, 2024

    Thanks for keeping us updated on the dingo/wild dog issue. We fear for the rest of the state after 30/9/24 as it appears that the wild dog control program will come to an end as there was no funding for it in the Victorian State Budget recently.

  3. Glenn Nix, May 28, 2024

    Quick form a committee and a working party — that will fix the PR problem. Slap a photo warning about disturbing the kiddies. Pander to city voters that keep you in and ignore sheep owners because there are more votes in dingoes and national parks. Stick some talking heads nodding a lot on camera using catch phrases like sustainability. All done.

  4. Geoffrey Power, May 28, 2024

    A wild dog was recently trapped on the South Australian side of Ngarkat National Park, alarming landholders.
    No doubt this will become more common due to the Victorian Government’s attitude regarding wild dog management.

  5. Susan Byrne, May 27, 2024

    The government’s penny-pinching apathy towards this issue is highly disturbing, not to mention very cruel in its complicity on this latest policy walk back. I live in a rural area and roaming dogs have been an issue for livestock even around rural residential zone peripheries, but to think dingoes are being given freedom to roam is totally reckless. It’s not just livestock and livelihoods at stake, but human safety and native fauna. I recall a time when one reptile handler bragged about having a dingo in town and how it got out chasing animals. Thankfully someone’s pet made it to safety. There could easily have been a young child playing outside in that street. He moved, thankfully, but he never factored in what happens when his dangerous animals get out. This will become a widespread problem. I will happily sign any petition for immediate fencing.

  6. Peter Small, May 27, 2024

    Sheep farmers can only interpret this policy decision of the Victorian Government as a direct attempt to sabotage the Victorian sheep industry. Dingoes will soon spread across Victoria and no sheep flock will be safe from wild dog/dingo attack. Where is the VFF leadership on this issue? As usual infighting in Collins Street, I suspect.

    • Dean Beynon, May 30, 2024

      There seems to be no solution to the government’s lack of being business-minded in Australia.
      One solution would be to stop the rot and sack the lot.

      • Ellisha, June 12, 2024

        What? And wipe out a culturally significant totem species?
        They are literally on the brink of extinction, there has been two government studies and Dr Kylie Cairns’ study that has proved this.
        There is definitely more than one way; suggesting otherwise is complete ignorance.

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