ABOUT $1.8 million will be spent on wild dog management in South Australia next year, but the state government is continuing to ignore sheep producer calls for funding to employ professional trappers south of the state’s dog fence.
South Australia’s Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Ian Hunter, and Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Leon Bignell, yesterday launched the $1.55 million South Australian Wild Dog Strategic Plan 2016-2020 at Coober Pedy.
The plan included the proposed appointment of a state wild dog coordinator, to be based in Port Augusta, and a $1.25 million investment in maintaining and improving the state’s dog fence.
Mr Hunter also announced the government will be appointing a state wild dog coordinator, based in Port Augusta with Natural Resources SA Arid Lands, to oversee the plan.
Plan funding also involved a further $300,000 investment in the SA Arid Lands’ Biteback program, which has included ground and aerial baiting, provision of traps and bait delivery devices and landholder training in wild dog trapping.
In South Australia, large populations of wild dogs are now mainly confined to the 60 percent of the state located to the north of the dog fence, where the dogs are regarded as native by the State Government. To the south, there is an isolated wild dog population at Ngarkat Conservation Park in the upper south east, although pastoralists report that wild dogs are breeding south of the fence in pastoral areas.
Money still needed for professional dog trappers
Livestock SA president Geoff Power said the dog fence is funded on a dollar-for-dollar basis with industry and the State Government, the new co-ordinator was being funded with federal money and aerial baiting programs were industry-funded, apart from their administration by the SA government.
“What everybody needs to understand is that some of those figures he is quoting are industry monies, not State Government monies.
“The $300,000 might be trapper money, but I would be doubtful,” he said.
“I don’t think there is any extra money (for trappers).
“We still need extra money for trappers.”
Mr Power said the SA Government was underestimating the threat wild dogs represented to livestock production south of the dog fence.
“They don’t understand the problem … it’s a State Government issue, not a Federal Government issue.”
Unlike in other states, the SA Government is not funding the provision of professional wild dog trappers and the Federal Government is providing just $12,000 next year to train producers to trap dogs.
The $12,000 in funding was “ridiculous” and training producers was working “to a certain extent”, Mr Power said, but on vast stations, producers did not have the time to spend up to weeks to trap problem dogs; skilled professional trappers were needed.
“Most of the money going into wild dog control is coming from industry — it is coming from the sheep industry.
“That press release he put out, it’s all about spin — it’s not about fact,” he said.
“That NRM money is coming out of our NRM levies anyway.”
Cattle a priority outside dog fence
The State Government said outside the dog fence, the plan would strategically manage wild dog populations to minimise damage to the cattle industry, while also respecting the cultural significance of dingoes, and their important ecological function in keeping kangaroo and other populations in check.
Other aspects of the plan included:
detecting and eradicating wild dogs inside the dog fence,
a dog fence buffer zone (35 kilometres outside the dog fence) – to prevent wild dogs from entering,
protect the cattle industry while maintaining populations of wild dogs outside the dog fence, including the pastoral cattle zone and non-production areas,
ensuring good governance for wild dog management.
The plan was drafted by the South Australian Wild Dog Advisory Group, with the State Government, peak livestock and conservation stakeholder groups, the state and local dog fence boards and community members and groups.
Mr Hunter said the State Government needed to protect its sheep industry, which is worth around $1.5 billion a year to the State’s economy.
“We recognise the dingo has important cultural value to many Aboriginal communities and plays an important ecological role in regulating wildlife numbers in the rangelands – balancing these views is a challenge for livestock and wildlife managers.
“This balancing act has influenced the development of the South Australian Wild Dog Strategic Plan 2016-2020, providing the protection of livestock, particularly for the sheep industry south of the dog fence, and the maintenance of dingo populations outside the dog fence.”
Mr Bignell said wild dogs cause enormous damage to the state’s multi-million dollar sheep industry and to the well-being of South Australia’s sheep farmers.
“The State Government supports our sheep industry with several programs aimed at reducing the impacts of wild dogs, but they remain a big issue for our farmers.
“The plan brings together all current wild dog management activities across the state and sets out improvements needed for better government, industry and community collaboration,” he said.
“The vision of this plan is to protect South Australia’s livestock industries from the impact of wild dogs while maintaining the ecological and cultural roles of the dingo as a wildlife species outside the Dog Fence.”
Where does the money come from?
South Australia’s Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources said the State Government and the SA Arid Lands NRM board contributed $720,000 to wild dog management in South Australia each year.
Wild dog funds are sourced from industry, State Government and Australian Government, representing the long standing partnership between industry, government and landholders in combating wild dogs in South Australia. The department said the Wild Dog Strategic Management Plan offered additional opportunity to leverage funding for wild dog control in South Australia.
Projected investment for 2017 – total about $1.8m
- $200,000 investment through into the dog fence upgrade (2016/17 project funding)
- $150,000 state wild dog co-ordinator (2016/17 project funding)
- $12,000 trapper training for landholders (2016/17 project funding)
- $500,000 annual investment in dog fence maintenance
- $138,000 Biteback on-ground wild dog control program in SA Arid Lands region (Sheep Industry Fund)
- $50,000 annual aerial baiting program in the SA Arid Lands region (unconfirmed funding)
SA Arid Lands NRM Board & South Australian Government
- $100,000 investment into biosecurity program operating in SA Arid Lands region
- $500,000 annual investment in dog fence maintenance
- $120,000 invested through staff supporting statewide wild dog policy, strategy development, technical advice and implementation within Biosecurity SA.