Wild Dog & Pest Control

Dingoes are killing sheep, but no control permit allowed

Terry Sim, May 6, 2024

A dead Merino ewe believed to have been killed by a wild dog. Image – Alan Bennett.

 

A NORTH-WEST Victorian sheep producer has been denied a permit to control a dingo attacking his sheep despite the State Government conceding “on the balance of probability” that dingoes have killed his livestock.

Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action regulatory strategy and permissions director Callie Donaldson also conceded that Lawloit-based producer Alan Bennett had “undertaken a number of reasonable actions in the short-term to avoid the lethal control of a dingo.”

However, Ms Donaldson, in denying Mr Bennett an Authority to Control Wildlife permit, said “I must balance this with my obligations under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and the Wildlife Act 1975.”

“The scientific advice before me is clear that this population of dingoes is on the verge of extinction, and because of its population size, isolation and lack of genetic diversity, the removal of even one dingo could have significant negative implications for the population’s survival.

“For this reason, your application for an ATCW for lethal control is refused.”

Mr Bennett believes he is now losing lambs to the wild dogs or dingoes.

Ms Donaldson also acknowledged additional information from Mr Bennett regarding the number of sheep killed by dingoes since 7 March 2024, and the efforts he had made to reduce the risk of predation on your sheep.

“I also note your constraints in stock movements given the potential implications in moving sheep during lambing season, as well as the costs and time required to implement further actions.”

Ms Donaldson said she had been advised that the wildlife cameras set up on 11 April 2024 have not captured any footage of dingoes or other predators and that the supporting documentation (such as photographs) Mr Bennett provided does not fully verify the quantity of sheep killed.

“However I acknowledge the emotional distress of documenting deceased livestock and that you have concerns about the practicability of retaining physical evidence,” she said.

Despite earlier telling Mr Bennett he might need at ATCW to scare or disturb dingoes and advising him again that it is an offence under the Wildlife Act 1975 to willfully disturb, injure or chase wildlife without an ATCW, in an email she said “the Conservation Regulator will not pursue regulatory action against land managers who take reasonable measures to scare or chase a dingo posing imminent risk to livestock.”

“This is because disturbance will have limited short-term welfare impacts on dingoes.

“Please be advised that the killing or injuring dingoes – even if they are posing imminent risk to livestock is not permitted under law,” Ms Donaldson advised Mr Bennett.

Mr Bennett is one of the first farmers to be impacted by the government’s decision on 14 March to end the Wildlife Act (1975) Order In Council that effectively ‘unprotected’ dingoes on private land, and on public land within a 3km buffer from the borders to private land, enabling baiting and trapping. On 1 October 2024, the government has said it will do the same in eastern Victoria.

DEECA camera identified a dingo

Ms Donaldson also told Mr Bennett there were avenues for review of regulatory decisions through an internal conservation regulator review process, and applicants also have review rights through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal under section 86C of the Wildlife Act.

However, Mr Bennett told Sheep Central he would not be appealing the DEECA decision, despite a DEECA officer’s camera identifying a wild dog on his property next to the Big Desert Wilderness Park after his permit application was denied.

But the producer is continuing to document any attacks to illustrate the full ramifications of the government’s decision and might be the basis for a future compensation claim.

“We were told that the ATCW permit was our avenue to control wild dogs, well it’s a load of ….shit, clearly that’s not the case, they are not going to grant one.

“It was just a complete waste of time,” Mr Bennett said.

“It wouldn’t matter if I had an encyclopaedia of evidence … in their opinion the dogs are so close to extinction that they can’t allow one to die.

“But my problem with all that is where is there historical data on the population dynamics of wild dogs in the Big Desert?” he said.

“That’s going to go up and down with the seasons.

“They’re saying there are only 40 left, but the fact that we’ve been doing this control for decades and there is still a sustainable population of dogs in the Big Desert says what’s there is what should be there – they can’t make the environment for the dogs any bigger.”

He estimated his sheep have suffered at least seven attacks from dingoes since March, but he faced a $20,000 fine if he kills a dog with 1080 baits.

“I just think their attitude is that these dogs are so precious that it doesn’t matter what happens.”

Mr Bennett is in the process of putting up more exclusion fence to keep the dingoes out, but he believes he might have to drastically change how he utilises the land adjacent to the park.

“We’ve got two blocks up there that we don’t have stock at the moment – 5000 acres.”

Vic Government’s responsibility to manage and monitor wildlife

Mr Bennett believes it is the responsibility of the Victoria authorities to get more accurate data on the wild dog/dingo population in the north-west and control movements.

“Absolutely, it is their responsibility to manage the wildlife that is in the Big Desert.”

He also sees a policy conflict with South Australia in that there is nothing stopping dingoes crossing from the Big Desert into the neighbouring state below the SA Dog Fence where government policy is to eradicate them.

“So straight away, if the Victorian Government wants to ensure the long-term viability of these dogs and they don’t reckon there are enough in the Big Desert, they should be talking to South Australia and saying let them go in the middle and we’ll support you on the three kilometre buffer zone and we’ll give the Victorians back the buffer zone.

“You are going to give them another half a million hectares in the Ngarkat Conservation Park, let the South Australians do the same control as we have had around the edge, instead of going out in the middle and baiting them,” he said.

“Otherwise, the South Australians will end up putting a fence up.

“At the end of the day, the Victorian Government has got to manage the animals that live in that area that they own correctly, and at the moment they are not and they never have – kangaroos, emus, goats.

“It’s fine if they want to protect the dogs and whatever, but we shouldn’t be the ones that cop the costs and if you take it a step further, by not controlling them with a 3km buffer zone, they are really introducing wild dogs into the open country,” he said.

“They can roam 10-20kms in 24 hours and theoretically within a few years they could be in the Little Desert and in the Grampians, now is that their agenda?

“I don’t think it is, but it would be a convenient coincidence for those people who are pro-dog.”

Rather than spend more than $550,000 on an extension program on erecting exclusion fencing and implementing non-lethal control measures, Mr Bennett said the State Government should be fencing the park areas with dingoes.

“What they haven’t thought about is if we all put up exclusion fencing, and the dogs, kangaroos and emus will be cut off from the watering points on our land they are accessing now.”

But before that happens, he believes the current policy will push the wild dogs further out into farming land to find water.

“You’ll have dogs out in the open country where you haven’t seen dogs for 100 years.

“They have completely opened a Pandora’s Box and they haven’t thought about the possible implications, and part of the problem is that they never even consulted us before they made the decision.”

DEECA has not responded to several questions asked by Sheep Central three weeks ago about the level of evidence required to justify an ATCW and the amount of damage a wild dog or dingo would have to do before it is proportionate to the impact of the proposed control on the wildlife population at risk of extinction. DEECA has also not released the evidence that shows that the north-west Victorian dingo population is at risk of extinction or what the population size should be long-term.

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Comments

  1. David Perry, May 19, 2024

    I am under the impression that in Victoria, if a domestic dog is attacking livestock it can be shot. I can’t see how this can be now practical, as it could be very hard (especially under spotlighting or thermal optic conditions) to confidently identify some domestic dog breeds from dingoes/wild dogs. If a farmer misidentified a dingo/wild dog as domestic and shoots it, they could be liable for prosecution. I also have concerns about the use of exclusion fencing. Although I see the benefits of this as a non lethal control for livestock and native animal protection sites, I would like to know the impact of having thousands of kilometres of exclusion fencing on the natural migration of native animals though the environment. As Mr Bennett points out, if all the farms are fenced, there’s no access to water in dry times for the dingos/wild dogs or other native species. The effect of the fences would be devastating during bush/grass fires as well, blocking the escape of all things that come up against it.
    I agree with the idea of expanding the dingo/wild dog territory across the South Australian border and introducing buffer zones to agricultural lands to strike a balance of sorts. Expanding the territory could also help increase the genetic profile of the surviving population by the possibility of other dingo/wild dogs from further afield moving into new, unoccupied land. I have referred to the animals in question here as “dingo/wild dogs”. I believe it is not appropriate to be judged on the use of the word “dog” as to the qualifications for making comments here. It would seem that there has been many studies into the genetic profiles of different population of these animals with the outcomes varying greatly.
    The fact is that the hybridisation of dingoes and domestic dogs is a fact, to differing levels across different areas. So are we at a point whereby there is the need for a term to refer to dingos/wild dogs. Hopefully this could put to rest the constant judgement about calling them dingoes or wild dogs from both sides of the argument and get some proper collaborative planning from all stakeholders to make informed and accurate decisions.

  2. Brendan Mahoney, May 10, 2024

    The wild dogs should only be killing sheep as a last resort. They are a timid creature.
    Obviously, they have ran out of wombats, wallabies, koalas and quolls. Bad luck for all the native animals in the bush.
    The greenies argue that the top predator is required to balance the ecosystem. The Labor government wants to hand over control of the park to wild dogs. That’s ignorance, incompetence and absurd, when humans are the top dogs and can offer long-term harmony in the park landscape. Another “pass the buck” by the environment minister.

  3. Alan Bennett, May 8, 2024

    A wild dog was caught on a camera set by a DEECA person at the perimeter of our property adjacent to the Big Desert, but this occurred after my application for an ATCPW was denied. So yes, there is vision of a wild dog at our boundary. Black in colour with two white front feet.
    I have repeatedly told anyone who will listen that the lack of water in the Big Desert due to the very dry start to this year is the primary reason why dogs are leaving the Big Desert and entering our property. This often happens during a dry autumn. Once we exclusion-fence our property then the dogs will not have access to this water and will be at more risk of perishing, although this will be more aligned with the natural conditions within the Big Desert as it should be.
    I am not suggesting that dogs establishing in the Little Desert is neither a good nor a bad outcome; however, the potential for more stock maulings and deaths from wild dog attacks will be increased. The entire sheep industry in the West Wimmera could be put at risk by allowing the wild dogs to roam and establish in the open country.
    The Big Desert cannot be made any bigger to accommodate an increased wild dog population, so where are these extra dogs expected to live? The only feasible option is a collaboration with the South Australia Government to allow wild dogs to exist within the Ngarkat and be controlled in a buffer perimeter zone. This would effectively double the natural habitat for the wild dogs to live in. Pro-dog people would be better spending their time and effort in lobbying the SA Government on this issue rather than taking pleasure in seeing our sheep being eaten alive as dogs roam into open farming country.

    • Alan McKenzie, May 19, 2024

      Send the government an account for your stock losses and make it public why you are doing it. Ms Donaldson needs come into the real world. Farmers rely on livestock sales for their income, but she knows her salary will be in the bank every week. My attitude would be SSS. Shoot, shovel, shut up. The killing will not stop till the dog or dogs are culled.

    • Ellisha Martion, May 9, 2024

      Thanks for your reply Alan.
      I, too, have made my concerns about the lack of water known to DEECA and hopefully something can/will be done.

      Do you think the pipeline has had an affect on stock losses over the past 10 or so years? As I know that farmers gave up dams and channels and were promised water saved would go to Lake Albacutya (which hasn’t happened).

      Please know that while some in the ag industry think we (pro-dingo) don’t care for livestock and/or farmers, it simply isn’t true. We’re just trying to help rid the country of the outdated misinformation that is continuing to be perpetuated and to promote other non-lethal methods.

  4. Ellisha Martion, May 8, 2024

    So, was there a dingo on camera or not? This article contradicts itself..

    “Ms Donaldson said she had been advised that the wildlife cameras set up on 11 April 2024 have not captured any footage of dingoes or other predators and that the supporting documentation”

    “despite a DEECA officer’s camera identifying a wild dog on his property next to the Big Desert Wilderness Park after his permit application was denied.”

    So, which is it?

    Also, Mr Bennett is still failing to understand how inbreeding affects a small population of any species. They’re are literally breeding themselves out because of the significant inbreeding, hence why, removing even one dingo puts the population at a massive increased risk.

    Has Mr Bennett raised his concerns about water within Big Desert and Wyperfeld if it’s such a big concern for him? I’m betting not.

    Dingoes were once found within the Little Desert and the Grampians, and I don’t think Mr Bennett has the qualifications to decide whether or not it is a positive or negative thing, especially considering he keeps referring to dingoes as simply “dogs”.

    As for Michael Kelly in the comments. Do you not think dingoes have been collateral damage for long enough? Clearly he also lacks any understanding of the importance of apex predators in ecosystems.

    Peter Star, dingoes have a right to be able to live and do their ecological job as the keystone apex predator on Australia.

  5. Michael Kelly, May 7, 2024

    Livestock producers would be distressed reading of the plight of Allan Bennetts sheep being torn to pieces by dingoes. Apparently sheep producers are to be collateral damage in DEECA’s policy of allowing dingoes to run rampant. DEECA director Callie Donaldson might believe her hands are tied as this is department policy, but maybe she could take a leaf out of US president Harry Truman’s book who had a sign on his desk that read “The Buck Stops Here.” It reflected his belief that he was ultimately responsible for the actions of his government.

  6. John and Rhonda Crawford, May 7, 2024

    Well done, on keeping us informed of the wild dog/dingo problems that the north-west of Victoria is having to deal with. We hope the same thing is not going to happen in the north-east/Gippsland region before 30/9/2024, but it is not looking very hopeful. The Victorian Government seems to care more about the dingoes/wild dogs than the sheep and cattle farmers who are trying to make a living.

  7. Peter Star, May 7, 2024

    Alan Bennett has a right to farm. He should have the ability to protect his livestock and livelihood.

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