Massive fencing project on track to protect sheep industry

Five to eight road trains are needed to deliver the fencing materials to rebuild each new stage of the 2150km South Australian Wild Dog Fence.

The $25 million project has been challenged by rain, industrial strikes, pollution restrictions, container shortages, increased steel prices and delivery logistics.

About 310km of fence is completed and another 460km is underway. The replacement of 1600km is due to be finished by June 2024.

The 141km leg from Erudina to the NSW border is completed, and approvals have been completed for other sections of fence in the north-east pastoral area at Moolawatana (129km) and Wertaloona (70km).

The South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Region’s Dog Fence Rebuild Manager Lindell Andrews said the first 26km stage at Erudina and Curnamona allowed for the trialling of the fence design, materials and actual costs.

In the Marree Local Dog Fence Board area, the 130km leg at Mundowdna is underway, Muloorina (87km) is completed, and a realignment is proposed along Finniss Springs/Callanna boundary to avoid floodways.

The longest stage to date of 196km at Mt Eba/Millers Creek stretch is underway with a realignment through Millers Creek to move the fence out of many small but steep gullies.

Further west, the private section at Malbooma (61km) requires a mix of steel and wood posts, and has electric fencing to prevent incursions by wombats and camels.

The Penong Local Dog Fence Board area will need about 60,000 wooden posts to cater for the saline soils.

Preparatory earthworks have been completed on 131km at Pureba and the procurement for the Penong stage (160km) is underway.

“It is a standard and flexible design to fit our budget – 1.5m high, the posts are 7m apart, and the mesh has an attached 400mm lap,” Miss Andrews said.

Australian Wool Innovation has provided an EzyWire™ Fencing Machine to roll out prefabricated mesh under tension.

It is available to all fencing contractors and has been used for the rebuild of the fence in the north-east pastoral area and north of Marree.

“The rebuild of the fence is the first stage in controlling wild dogs in South Australia – we have a wild dog trapping program worth $1.2 million from 2018, a $100,000 wild dog bounty, coordinated ground baiting, aerial baiting, and a proposed 10-year plan to eradicate wild dogs valued at $15 million,” Miss Andrews said.

The 1600km of new fence is funded with $10 million from the Federal Government, $10 million from the SA Government, and $5 million from the livestock industry.

Expenditure to August 2021 is $5.18 million. The project is overseen by the Dog Fence Rebuild Committee made up of the SA Dog Fence Board chair, local Dog Fence Board chairs, the private owner of the north-west section of the fence and a Livestock SA representative.

SA Dog Fence Board chair and National Wild Dog Coordination Committee chair Geoff Power said four properties alongside the new fence had now been restocked with sheep after many decades of wild dog problems.

“With our strategic ground and aerial baiting and trapping programs, we believe we are making a difference,” Mr Power said.

“But it is not the time to relax as we need to stay proactive rather than be reactive once the fence is completed by strategically ground and aerial baiting, and trapping.

“Where we haven’t been able to run sheep for some time, it will give landholders the choice to run sheep.

“The flow on effects will be employment, more transport companies operating, shearing teams coming into the area, local businesses will generate more income and it will increase landholder resilience to drought.”

 For more information on the SA Dog Fence Rebuild click here