Wild dogs threat ad­vances

Midwest Times - - FRONT PAGE - Zach Relph

Rav­aging wild dogs forced the Wass fam­ily off their Peren­jori prop­erty about five years ago, with con­tin­ual at­tacks on flocks mak­ing sheep farm­ing a near im­pos­si­ble task.

In search of safer ter­ri­tory, Charles Wass re­lo­cated to Coorow in 2014 while his fa­ther Harold ven­tured to Boyup Brook, where dogs have not yet in­fil­trated.

Mr Wass’ bid to re­main a wool pro­ducer and grain grower was a pri­mary rea­son be­hind the de­ci­sion to es­tab­lish the Harold Park Dohne stud at Coorow.

How­ever, with wild dog pop­u­la­tions ad­vanc­ing across the State the sav­age pests have again emerged as a threat to Mr Wass and his wife Shayne’s flock of about 2960 sheep, which in­cludes 1500 ewes. Mr Wass said dogs were not yet preva­lent in the re­gion, but sight­ings were be­com­ing more fre­quent.

“The last year we were in Peren­jori it would have cost us about 360 lambs, at a con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate, and about 20odd ewes,” he said.

“We no longer farm in one area and we’ve sold a farm be­cause of the dogs.

“We haven’t had dog at­tacks yet on this farm, but they have been near prop­er­ties on our south­ern bound­ary.

“As pop­u­la­tion builds up in an area, and they get low on food, they will keep mi­grat­ing through.”

Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment biose­cu­rity of­fi­cers met with Coorow farm­ers ear­lier this month in an ef­fort to com­bat the mount­ing wild dog threat in the West Mid­lands.

The depart­ment is work­ing with some of the re­gion’s live­stock pro­duc­ers, in­clud­ing Mr Wass, to es­tab­lish a recog­nised biose­cu­rity group in the area. The ter­ri­tory the pro­posed Coorow body is set to cover and when it will be es­tab­lished are yet to be de­ter­mined.

Mr Wass said de­vel­op­ing an RBG would help limit the pest’s spread through Coorow and south­wards.

Depart­ment biose­cu­rity of­fi­cer Glenice Batch­e­lor echoed the calls and said recog­nised biose­cu­rity groups were an ef­fec­tive pest man­age­ment ap­proach.

“RBGs en­able land­hold­ers and farm man­agers to de­velop a co-or­di­nated ap­proach to con­trol and man­age de­clared pests pri­ori­tised in con­sul­ta­tion with the lo­cal com­mu­nity,” she said. “The groups add great value to the good work al­ready un­der­taken by in­di­vid­ual land­hold­ers.

“RBG ac­tiv­i­ties are sup­ported by a de­clared pest rate, which is matched by State Gov­ern­ment funds and made avail­able to the RBGs to man­age pri­or­ity-de­clared pests in their area.”

There are 14 es­tab­lished RBGs in WA, in­clud­ing the Eastern Wheat­belt Biose­cu­rity Group and Cen­tral Wheat­belt Biose­cu­rity As­so­ci­a­tion.

Funds gen­er­ated by an RGB through a de­clared pest rate are matched equally by the State Gov­ern­ment to aid the im­ple­men­ta­tion of op­er­a­tional plans.

The touted Coorow RBG will en­gage a pro­fes­sional dog­ger, on a daily rate, with farm­ers en­cour­aged to ob­tain a re­stricted chem­i­cal per­mit for 1080 and strych­nine to help the dog­ger op­er­ate.

Pas­toral­ists and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion of WA live­stock chair­man Chris Pat­more, who farms sheep and wheat at Peren­jori and Ene­abba, said a recog­nised biose­cu­rity group would bol­ster wild dog erad­i­ca­tion ef­forts and help form an­other line of de­fence.

“These RBGs aren’t per­fect, but it’s the best we can do,” he said.

“We re­ally do ap­pre­ci­ate the Gov­ern­ment match­ing money and its recog­ni­tion that many of the dogs re­side in gov­ern­ment-con­trolled bush.

“These RBGs are usu­ally based on mul­ti­ple shire bound­aries and the shires are very help­ful in the early stages of set­ting up an RBG.”

Pic­ture: Zach Relph

Coorow sheep farmer Charles Wass is mak­ing a stance to pro­tect his flock from wild dogs.

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