A program aimed at bridging the gap between council and landowners around wild dog management is winning praise in local government circles for Bulloo Shire.
The South West Queensland council is the third largest in the state and has taken a proactive no-tenure approach to wild dog management with a dedicated team of three staff who travel thousands of miles to meet face-to-face with remote owners to help. to solve problems.
Finalist in the Local Government Excellence Awards, Bulloo Rural Services staff racked up 5,000 miles last fiscal year talking to homeowners about bait coordination and training, chemical training/certifications, exclusion fences, drought support , facilitation of water deals, management of invasive plants and animals, and provision of welfare support.
While wild dogs were the focus of many of the landowners, the team also facilitated training programs in property mapping, bovine pregnancy testing, stream repair, farm safety and livestock supplementation.
They drew on resources from PestSmart, Feralscan, AgForce, Southern Queensland Landscapes, and the state Department of Agriculture.
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Rural Services Manager Donna Hobbs developed the program from scratch following a suggestion from Bulloo Mayor John Ferguson that the disconnect between council and landlords needed to be resolved.
“The Council wanted to provide valuable services to landowners,” said Ms. Hobbs.
“Our Rural Land Officer now has a liaison approach, so he’s not just spraying weeds or helping someone set up a dog trap, he’s talking to homeowners about their issues.
“We fill gaps, support and connect people.”
Staff, often accompanied by a mental health nurse, visit 27 landowners spread across the county’s 73,000 square kilometers, with the furthest station a 3.5-hour drive on unpaved roads.
“Not only are they remote, but they border New South Wales and South Australia, which have their own regulations, which poses cross-border issues for landowners. We’re at the Border Regional Organization of Councils to try to work out some of the those problems,” Ms. Hobbs said.
Funding from the Queensland Wild Pest Initiative has enabled a strategic coordinated 1080 aerial baiting program covering 795,557 ha and assistance in monitoring and capturing feral dogs on three properties covering 178,200 ha.
Two coordinated 1080 aerial baiting programs in November 2020 and May 2021 resulted in 11 wild dogs trapped, two shots, 34 scalps received, and 8,962 kg of meat distributed.
The council provides subsidized meat baits to encourage landowner participation in the management of wild dogs.
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Ms Hobbs said they worked in collaboration with NSW Local Land Services and neighboring Quilpie and Paroo counties on simultaneous baiting campaigns.
He paid tribute to the preliminary work done by the Western Queensland DogWatch committee funded by AgForce and Australian Wool Innovation.
“Our goal is to reduce ad hoc baits in the area we cover from St George on the southern border to the north of the state,” he said.
“Three years ago, we had a big problem with wild dogs, but since everyone committed to the aerial and ground trapping and baiting programs, the number of dogs has stabilized over the last 12 months.
“People put it down to continuous effort, but if we take our foot off the pedal, it’s going to recede quickly.”
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Among those credited for supporting the success of the program are Peter Lucas of Paroo County for being a mentor, and former South West Queensland Wild Dog Coordinator Skyela Kruger for her hands-on assistance.
“We have face-to-face conversations with people and we don’t hide the fact that they have neighbors with sheep, and we want both businesses to thrive,” said Ms. Hobbs. “We also encourage our homeowners to talk to their neighbors.”
Mark and Tay Luckraft operate an earthmoving business and also help run the family-owned Yakara Station in Thargomindah.
They have received visits to the property by Rural Services staff and attended training workshops.
Ms. Luckraft said isolated landowners appreciated the contact, especially to discuss their needs in relation to drought support or mental well-being.
The pair participate in the aerial and ground baiting programs each May and November, but admit it can be a struggle when absentee landowners don’t bait.
“We have exclusion fences with a neighbor and we also connect to the wild dog barrier fence on our boundary – in our sheep territory, we put two simple electrical cables into a six-wire fence,” said Ms Luckraft.
She said the exclusion fence and coordinated fattening programs resulted in a 110 percent lamb mark in her Dorper herd in 2021.
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Donna Hobbs said the council had twice submitted foreclosure fence applications when three properties expressed interest but found they were ineligible.
The properties were not adjoining each other and, as such, did not qualify for financing under QFPI’s foreclosure fence programs, which require three or more properties to form a group.
Since then, two properties have erected their privately funded exclusion cells and a third is underway.
“For anyone who needs an example of exclusion fencing, you can see how the Glasson family in Picarilli has gone ahead with their production and quality sheep,” he said.
“It’s a credit to the family and how hard they’ve worked.
“You see a lot in the media about the government giving money for these fences, but here those genuine, hard-working people who could have benefited weren’t able to access it.
“They went ahead anyway and have seen the success of what they have done.
“We’re not bringing sheep in here without the fences.”
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The Bulloo story goes the miles to handle wild dogs first appeared in Queensland Country Life.