LAMBS KILLED BY DOGS
Farmer believes domestic dogs attacked his livestock
FACING south from the main ridgeline on Pinaroo Pastoral, Mountain Bay and Goughs Bay are visible to the right, and the state forest abutting Macs Cove is to the left.
In the past, owner/operator Paul Diamond has encountered wild dogs from the Macs Cove direction, but he’s never been attacked from the Goughs Bay side, until a couple of weeks ago, when he arrived to a paddock spattered with blood and dappled with dead and injured lambs.
After the shock wore off, Paul’ eyebrows raised.
In Paul’s experience, wild dogs hadn’t ventured far from cover into open plains without the security of bushland nearby to retreat if necessary.
But dealing with wild dogs is part of the farming game, which Paul acknowledges.
“As farmers we have to adapt and deal with the repercussions of being in an area where there are wild dogs and alpine dingoes,” said Paul.
But Paul suspects this attack, in which 20 lambs were killed and another 20 seriously injured, wasn’t by wild, but domestic dogs.
“There were no tracks along Mountain Bay drive, so we’re thinking they’ve come across the paddocks at Mountain Bay pastoral,” he said.
“That direction is Mountain Bay and Goughs Bay, so a wild dog would have to be very keen to come into open plain country and not utilise the bush as protection.
“I had 40 lambs attacked over that weekend, 12 were killed and then over the next three days another eight succumbed to their injuries.
“But the other 20 who were attacked are still alive.
“Because of the bacteria in a wild dog’s saliva, if a lamb had a chunk taken out of it but survived, it’d die within 72 hours once the infection spread throughout its body.
“No matter the penicillin and pain relief I gave - which I did every time - they died.
“These lambs (from the recent
attack) had pierce marks through their skin, so you would’ve thought those 20 would be dead to infection by now if it’d been a wild dog, as domestic dogs generally have a cleaner diet.”
Additionally, Paul said the modus operandi of wild dogs is to return and pick off more stock, until they’re either deterred or eradicated, but there have been no subsequent attacks.
David Klippel, wild dog expert from DELWP, told the Courier when discussing the Less Predators More Lambs project, that all dogs have a pattern.
“Domestic canines demonstrate a few noticeable differences to their wild cousins,” said David.
“Domestic dogs usually return home after a kill, as wild dogs shun built up areas.”
Paul added that the owners would have surely known if their dogs had been the ones who attacked, as they would’ve been covered in blood.
“You can’t blame the dog,” said Paul.
“They’re just going out and having fun, they don’t know what they’re doing.
“For all a domestic dog knows, they’re in a park playing but these other ‘dogs’ aren’t playing back.
“So they grab it and play with it, and suddenly it tastes nice.” Pinaroo is a family property. Paul moved up to the area eight
years ago and took over the operation in partnership with his uncle Phil and grandfather Gordon.
He took over operational management a couple of years ago and diversified their livestock to include sheep, which has been enjoyable aside from uncontrollable management issues.
But the bottom line isn’t Paul’s main concern.
“As a farmer, obviously we rely on livestock for an income,” he said.
“Like anyone, we’ve got families, bills, mortgages, so we rely on performing.
“But at the end of the day I did not think for one second that I’ve lost money.
“I thought those sheep have gone through a traumatic event, and that is what’s upset me the most.
“Twenty lambs - call it $5000 some were killed that were potential breeders that would’ve given me 10 lambs, so you can’t really put a value on the loss.
“I don’t breed animals to harm them.
“Yes they end up as a product that some people don’t agree with, and that’s fine, but I’m an animal lover.
“I studied a Bachelor Degree of Animal and Veterinary Biosciences and I wanted to be a vet or go into conservation and protect animals.
“I fell into farming because I wanted to work outside and
have every day be a little bit different, and luckily my family has a property that I have the opportunity to run.
“But I’ve brought that mentality of animal ethics being number one, because if I look after them, they look after me.”
Paul said he would like to think that the everyday locals who live in Goughs Bay and Mountain Bay townships understand, but those who mightn’t be in the area all the time need to understand that it’s not fair and frustrating to think of the high probability this incident was domestic dogs.
“Come up to Mansfield; we want you up here, because it’s great for our local economy,” Paul said.
“But you’ve got to understand your dogs have come from a backyard in Melbourne, and when you let them out here, they have the potential to impact a farmer’s livelihood and his mental health.”
Compounding his problems since the attacks, Paul’s now had to patrol his property throughout the night.
Whatever the truth of the recent attack, when it comes to domestic dogs, Paul’s message is simple.
“Just lock them up,” he said. “I’ll be happy, you’ll be happy. “I’d rather try the avenues of education and awareness.
“Because I don’t want to shoot someone’s dog, but I will if I have to.”