Updating knowledge of wild dog research, legislation and delivery

Current issues and challenges around wild dog management were under the spotlight as more than 50 operational, agency and research staff from around the nation attended a three-day symposium in northern NSW. 

National Wild Dog Management Coordinator Greg Mifsud said the Wild Dog Management Symposium at Armidale on March 14-16 provided an opportunity for participants to engage, network and liaise with people from other organisations and states to gain greater knowledge of the research, legislation and delivery of contrasting wild dog management programs between jurisdictions. 

Guest speakers from across the country provided the outcomes of current wild dog management research, the development and application of new technologies, and how practitioners are working with communities to deliver wild dog management programs under different legislative and regulatory frameworks in each state.

Mr Mifsud said wild dog management could be a contentious space and there was extensive discussion about the current challenges in delivering effective management programs.

“However, despite those challenges, significant progress had been made in the wild dog management space and there were many success stories amongst those presenting,” Mr Mifsud said.

“It is hoped the lessons learnt from these success stories in conjunction with the research outcomes and technological advances will be promoting further advances in wild dog management programs across the country.”

Participants also had a field trip to Dangar’s Falls, near Armidale, to inspect some historical exclusion fencing on the escarpment on the eastern fall country and some of the new exclusion fencing products being used to replace the older section of this fence.

Australian Wool Innovation Victorian Vertebrate Pest Management Coordinator Lucy-Anne Cobby said the opportunity to meet face-to-face, networking and making new connections at the symposium was invaluable.

“Being able to compare notes on how the different states work on wild dog management was great,” Ms Cobby said.

Goldfields Nullarbor Rangelands Biosecurity Group Chief Executive Officer Amanda Day travelled from Esperance to present at the symposium on new technology being used in remote terrain in WA’s goldfields.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the symposium and it was great to receive the feedback on what we are doing in Western Australia compared to the other states – we are not poles apart on objectives but each of us do some things differently,” Mrs Day said. 

“It has been very informative and well organised. I can take lots of information home to our other RBGs, which will help them immensely.”

Mrs Day said the opportunity to exchange information with Victorian wild dog program staff on remote trap monitoring systems was valuable.

 “It was good to see the exclusion fencing on the field trip and the practices put in place to manage the predators. We have quite a bit of exclusion fencing in our local area and I can pass that knowledge on.”

South Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regions Biosecurity Operations Coordinator – Pest Animals, Annette Scanlon, found connecting with agency and operational staff from other states on issues on a similar landscape scale as SA to be important. 

“There is a lot of overlap between the states – I haven’t met a lot of these people before, so it was great to put a face to the name,” Dr Scanlon said.

“Legislation and compliance proved to be a hot topic for all of us, and it is something South Australia is forging ahead on so there has been a lot of interest from other jurisdictions about those efforts we have been making.”

South Australian Arid Lands Landscape Board (SAAL) Biosecurity Officer Chris Havelberg was surprised at the similarities between wild dog management in SA and WA, but he was also interested in hearing about operational programs in the eastern states.

“It is the same issues, but everyone tackles it differently and there are all these barriers and complexities in other states we don’t seem to have in South Australia, and that has been a real surprise,” Mr Havelberg said.

“It reaffirmed we are doing alright.”

Mr Havelberg appreciated the opportunity to see exclusion fencing in the challenging New England terrain and hear about the exclusion fencing programs being delivered in other states. 

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Senior Ranger, Stuart Johnson, welcomed the chance to hear a range of expert speakers in the wild dog management field.

“These kinds of events are always good for making new connections and seeing what they are doing in this management space,” he said. 

ACT Biosecurity and Rural Services Director Warren Schofield was particularly interested in hearing the different perspectives and challenges from each jurisdiction on how wild dog management is approached.

“The theme coming through is it is more about communication with the stakeholders,” Mr Schofield said.

“The other participants appreciated the challenges we have in the ACT being a small jurisdiction with a lot of environmentally focused eyes on our program.

“I wouldn’t say they are unique challenges but there is a closer focus on what we do than in other places. 

“We only have one landholder with exclusion fencing and across the board our main reliance is on trapping and baiting. Exclusion fencing is another tool and is not the (panacea) but we were interested in seeing how it fits into our program.

“I’ve had a fair bit to do with wild dog management south of Canberra but to talk to other people from across the country is great and I made some key contacts to follow up on.”