Wild dogs in the Western region

OVERVIEW OF THE CURRENT PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS

1. Seasonal predator programs — large scale aerial and ground baiting program, targeting wild dogs, foxes and cats, carried out in autumn and spring. Landholders that are not involved in a pest management group or Landcare group are encouraged to join their local group and participate in coordinated programs.

2. Infrastructure project — funding will be used to establish a bait handling facility at Bourke, similar to the facility already established in Broken Hill. This will allow better use of resources to reduce travel and associated expenses by our Biosecurity Officers.

3. Pest animal expos — while it was the intention to host three traditional face to face events, COVID-19 meant this wasnt a possibility. To compensate, the Western NSW Pest Chat Webinar Series was developed, with six episodes held over December, February and March. Click here to access recordings of all six episodes.

4. 'Western Tracks' collaring project — the Western Tracks collaring project is a collaborative research project to improve the management of wild dogs and feral pigs in flood and associated country of the Paroo, Cuttaburra, Warrego and Darling River systems in the Western Local Land Services region.

In this project, wild dogs and feral pigs will be trapped, collared with a GPS tracking collar and released from where they are trapped. The movements of the collared animals will be monitored for up to a year after release while routine control activities are carried out within the region. Data gathered through this process will provide information on:

  • the movements and interactions of feral pigs and wild dogs in the landscape
  • how feral pigs and wild dogs use the landscape at different times of the year
  • how control of wild dogs can be better targeted to avoid dog bait uptake by feral pigs
  • effectiveness of routine control programs.

Private and public landholders, pest animal management and Landcare groups, NSW Farmers Wild Dog Coordinator, and agencies, will work collaboratively to deliver the project that has been driven by local landholders.

Feral pigs put under the microscope

After much planning, training and in receipt of the required approvals, field work commenced with the collaring of feral pigs in September 2020. A total of 30 pigs were collared by the end of 2020 which was the number the project team were hoping to achieve. In the instance a feral pig becomes free from its collar, the collar will be retrieved and  placed onto another feral pig in the project area.

The collared feral pigs will roam around the Western region for around 12 months, with the data being recorded and mapped by specialist members of the project team. The data that is recorded will be made available to landholders and give them, and NSW Government agencies, critical information to inform current and future control programs of feral pigs, allowing for a more strategic approach.

Wild dog collaring underway

The project team and local landholders are continuing to monitor traps and look for wild dog sign as they work to add tracking collars to additional wild dogs in the project area. To date there have been seven wild dogs trapped in rubber jaw leghold traps, assessed, collared with tracking collars, and released at the point of capture.

Currently, only three of the seven wild dogs that were collared are alive and the project team are assessing how many of the deceased wild dogs have succumb to the recent wild dog baiting program. All of the initial seven collared wild dogs were trapped within 50 km of the Paroo river channel and have provided the project team with valuable data (three are still providing data) on their movements around the landscape.

This information will, in time, be collated and made available to local landholders and stakeholders. With the collaring continuing, it is important landholders report any pest animal activity so the project team have the best knowledge of where the current wild dog activity is for the duration of the collaring.

How can landholders get involved?

All landholders in and around the target area are encouraged to be involved. Ways for landholders to be involved include:

  • participate in the project by completing an access agreement form. It is recommended that anyone in the project area complete a property access agreement form even if animals are not being collared on your property to allow quick recovery of collars
  • informing Western Local Land Services of sightings and other opportunities pertaining to wild dogs and feral pigs
  • record all sightings and related information in FeralScan.

Landholders are encouraged to continue to perform routine pest animal management as per normal and contact Local Land Services if collars are retrieved or found. However, during the first two months following trapping and collaring, it is recommended landholders release collared animals from traps to ensure more accurate data can be acquired. It is also preferred in this initial two months, that animals trapped with the collared animals are also released as an entire mob to limit effects on pig behaviour in the initial data collection.

Following the two months only collared pigs should be released and the others should be controlled. Animals that are tagged can be controlled and should be reported to the number printed on the tag. Local Land Services will communicate updates to all landholders and stakeholders involved in the project regarding this two-month timeframe.

For further information, contact Tim Wall, Team Leader of Biosecurity, on 0428 915 070 or tim.wall@lls.nsw.gov.au.

5. 'Trapping' program — landholders will have access to professional wild dog controllers to support the control of wild dogs on their property. To May 2021, 80 wild dogs have been controlled. Some resources on the program are below.

6. 'White Spaces' project — this project aims to inform all landholders of their pest animal responsibilities, and use a range of strategies to incorporate non-participants into group programs. Some resources on this project are below:

For the latest update on this project contact your local biosecurity officer.

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These six programs and projects were developed following consultation with the pest management groups and relevant stakeholders, with planning getting underway in late 2019. All landholders are encouraged to be actively involved, to share knowledge and experience, to incorporate into future management of wild dogs and other pest animals.

For further information on the programs or projects, or managing pest animals more generally, contact your nearest Biosecurity Officer, Local Landcare Coordinator or Regional Pest Animal Coordinator, Phil Baird on 0417 776 218 or email.

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