LIVESTOCK producers in north and north-west Queensland now have a wild dog specialist to help reduce the impact of the pests.
A collaborative funding partnership between government and industry has led to well-known pest management coordinator, Brett Carlsson, being appointed senior wild dog co-ordinator for north and north-west Queensland, based in Cairns.
The new role is part of an overall project being funded by the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, AgForce, Australian Wool Innovation, Meat & Livestock Australia, the MLA Donor Company and the western Queensland regional bodies — the Remote Area Planning and Development Board and the South West Regional Economic Development Association.
Recent estimates of the impact of wild dogs in Queensland alone are near $100 million.
Mr Carlsson will oversee the activities of two additional wild dog co-ordinators to be recruited for the central west and south west regions of the state.
The co-ordinators will work with landholders, local wild dog committees, councils, and the Department of Agriculture and Biosecurity Queensland on wild dog control management programs.
MLA general manager – producer consultation and adoption, Michael Crowley, said growing wild dog populations are increasingly affecting cattle producers in the north.
“Producers in the northern region may not be aware of recent developments in best practice pest control and planning.
“These newly funded positions aim to engage producers in best practice control strategies, train them in the use of the most up-to-date tools, encourage adoption of the latest technologies and facilitate the coordination of control programs,” Mr Crowley said.
“Mr Carlsson is a veteran of setting up these programs throughout Central and South West Queensland and will be working with producers from the coast across to the Northern Territory border.
“Data collected through the program will also be valuable in evaluating the extent of the wild dog problem in Queensland.”
Mr Carlsson has worked in the pest management industry for 13 years and said the new structure would provide support to landholders to undertake a co-ordinated approach.
“A lot of wild dog control is happening in the cattle industry, but it could be better coordinated to ensure producers are working in groups, sharing the load and having a greater impact on wild dog populations.
“Sheep are more susceptible to wild dog attacks and so support has traditionally been focused on sheep production areas,” Mr Carlsson said.
“However, wild dogs impact the cattle industry in a number of ways.
“Calves are obviously at risk from dog attacks, but reducing dog numbers will result in less cattle with bite marks and other injuries, and less stress to livestock, particularly calving heifers,” he said.
“Beyond the physical impacts, wild dogs have been implicated in the spread of parasitic diseases, such as Hydatid disease and Neosporosis.
“If we can reduce dog numbers, and I know we can, then we can reduce the impacts and producers should start to see a change with potentially more calves on the ground and improved animal welfare.”
National Wild Dog Management co-ordinator Greg Mifsud, from the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, said the collaborative funding effort by industry and government would lead to improved capacity of landholders to implement best practice, integrated control strategies.
“Upskilling and supporting producers and their communities to responsibly and humanely manage vertebrate pests will return multiple social, economic and environmental benefits.
“Across northern Australia, sheep numbers had fallen significantly in recent years while reports of wild dog predation on cattle had increased,” Mr Mifsud said.
“By working together and using the right control tools for the situation effectively, producers and other stakeholders can achieve a sustainable future for the red meat industry that supports biodiversity and the environment.”
MLA is also a co-funder of the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, following significant investment over the past 12 years in the previous Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre. This project aligns with coordinated campaigns underpinned by the National Wild Dog Action Plan(NWDAP) and the Australian Pest Animal Strategy.