Management programs having tangible impact in Queensland

Landholders have been urged to continue their wild dog management programs on the back of the erection of new cluster fencing through South West Queensland.

South West Queensland Wild Dog Coordinator Skyela Kruger emphasized the importance of maintaining local government coordinated wild dog management programs despite the advent of cluster fencing programs across south and central western Queensland.

Ms Kruger emphasised it was essential these programs continue to keep the wild dog population low and further limit the number of wild dogs outside fences.

“It will only take a tree to fall on the fence, a wild dog to dig under or climb, or a kangaroo to start a hole for a wild dog to get through,” she said.

“With a population still existing on the outside of the fences, landholders will still have wild dogs constantly looking for opportunities to breach their fence. And, once they get in, it could prove difficult and costly to get them out again.

“Exclusion fencing is just one piece to the puzzle and we need to put the pieces together to get an end result.

“Coordination on a landscape scale is key to minimising the impacts and reducing populations.”

In May, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a further $5 million in funding under Round Five of the Queensland Feral Pest Initiative program.

Successful applicants were located within the Remote Area Planning and Development Board (representing seven local government areas in Central Queensland), Goondiwindi, Western Downs, Paroo, Murweh and Balonne shire councils.

Premier Palaszczuk said state and federal funding totalling $25 million over five years had led to more than 7000km of cluster fencing, protecting 400 sheep-producing properties and doubling sheep numbers to 720,000.

Landholders, who receive approximately half of the material costs per kilometre through the program, invested a further $52 million in construction and the remaining material costs for the 7000km of fencing erected during the first three rounds of the Queensland Feral Pest Initiative.

The government has also made loans of $18 million to Longreach Regional Council to construct 2500km of fencing and $8 million to Balonne Regional Council.

A total of $15 million in Sustainability Loans for private wild dog exclusion fencing has also been processed by the Queensland Rural Industry Development Authority.

Since 2018, Ms Kruger has worked closely with stakeholders including Southern Queensland Landscapes, Biosecurity Queensland, and SW Regional and Economic Development.

She helped reconvene the Murweh Shire Wild Dog Committee and generate an increase in participation for coordinated baiting within the shire.

Ms Kruger said back in 2018 there had been a rolling five year average of 2500 wild dog scalps handed in under the wild dog bounty in the Murweh shire alone.

This had been reduced to 550 in the last financial year.

Ms Kruger works collaboratively with up to 90 landholders in the Murweh shire on wild dog baiting.

She has targeted absentee landholders in the six shires of Maranoa, Balonne, Paroo, Bulloo, Quilpie and Murweh to fulfil their biosecurity obligations.

“The majority of absentee landholders do participate in wild dog management programs now – the Rural Lands Officers and Wild Dog Advisory Committee members in those areas have worked hard to get them to participate in baiting programs,” she said.

“Some landholders don’t understand the extent of the wild dog issue in their area so we work with them to identify the impacts.”

Ms Kruger said many Murweh Shire properties were now behind exclusion fencing with continued baiting and trapping used to take out the remaining older wild dogs.

“We worked within key areas to target in between exclusion fences as we were finding the wild dogs were migrating along those fences to water courses.

“Those movement corridors were identified along with absentee landholders for baiting programs.

“The Murweh Shire Wild Dog Committee has kept those absentee landholders on board to continue to reduce those numbers.”

The autumn aerial and ground baiting program was carried out across the six south-west shires during April-May, distributing 81 tonnes of wild dog baits and 15 tonnes of feral pig baits.

Ms Kruger said the reduction in the kangaroo population from the drought has contributed to escalated processed kangaroo meat prices for baits to around the $5/kg.

Her position is founded through the Queensland Government’s Feral Pest Initiative program with cofounding from Australian Wool Innovation, AgForce, Government and Southwest Regional Economic Development.

“I will continue to support landholders and committees with their wild dog control efforts, providing education on tools such as the FeralScan app, and assist them in gaining more funding to continue to reduce the impacts of wild dogs.”

For more information contact Skyela Kruger and for information on the economic costs associated with wild dogs on the Queensland grazing industry click here