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Wild dog plague crushing livestock industry

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  • A bullet to the head or heart brings $500 per dog — but it doesn’t matter, the wild dog hunters can't keep up. Feral dog numbers have reached epidemic proportions, leaving a livestock industry under siege.

The wild dog hunters can’t keep up. A bullet to the head or heart brings $500 per dog — but it doesn’t matter. Tens of thousands of wild dogs are breeding faster than the hunters can track and shoot. Weighing in at up to 70 pounds, the dogs are powerfully built, ripping and tearing flesh with astonishing speed. Each night, the packs lay open dozens of sheep, or even bring down a calf or cow. And often, the dog packs are killing for fun — not food.

Australia’s livestock industry is under siege. No hyperbole: It’s an absolute disaster. In the last three years, wild dogs have cost Australian farmers and ranchers at least several hundred million dollars. The numbers are exploding; three solid years of rain have resulted in ripe conditions for the spread of feral dogs. A failed poison baiting policy and a dilapidated dingo fence have also contributed to the population burst.

The genetic distinction between wild dogs, hybrids, or dingoes is unclear. But what is clear, according to livestock producers, is a new canine behavior. Classic dingo behavior tends toward avoidance of humans and killing to eat. The new crossbreeds are very different, displaying increasing aggression and an unprecedented bloodlust. Queensland livestock producer Robert Belcher described an unsettling account of wild dog behavior to ABC Radio: “There’s an eerie feeling, especially when you’re setting a trap or when you’re tracking a dog that they’re watching you … there could be two or three or four or more, all watching and moving in closer for the kill. It’s not good and it is a behavior pattern that again, never has existed in the past.

“My farming activities are basically nil. I’m literally a full-time protector of my livestock and a hunter of the predator. I’m shooting 24/7 — all day, all night. I’m constantly baiting; I’m constantly tracking…

“A lot of people don’t realize that when you’re sound asleep, if there’s two or three dogs in your paddock, they can do an enormous amount of damage in a very short period of time. They’re not in to eat — they’re in to kill. They enjoy killing. This is what sets them apart from so many other predators. They’re not hunting to eat; they’re hunting to kill — for fun.”

And Michael Allpass, Agforce dog expert, is certain the wild dog population has reached a plague stage. “We are at a critical point; if we can’t get dog numbers under control, it will become extremely difficult for the sheep industry in Queensland to remain viable because we won’t be able to have the lamb numbers and won’t be able to maintain wool production,” he tells The Australian.

Discuss this Blog Entry 4

True Queenslander (not verified)
on Jun 19, 2013

I have been a hunter for over 30 years and a dog trapper for over 3 years. I have offered my services for free to any land owner who has a problem with any feral animals. No one responded, can't be that much of a problem. There aren't too many councils that pay $500 a dog, most are around the $50 a dog and I have yet to see a feral dog over 25Kg!

goran (not verified)
on Jun 19, 2013

hi there i m unemployed but good shooter i haw bad back and receiving dis.support will like to go hunt wild dogs only if i get approval for silencer to hunt with and will tray to bay thermal scope and a handgun for emergency defence if they come to close i will be successful i promise

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 22, 2013

In California in the 60's we had about 1,000 ewes and lost as many as 200 head in a year to dogs. These were domestic dogs with owners who "moved to the country so I could let my dog run loose" type owners. One neighbor complained that it was the third dog of his poisoned, but he still would not keep them in. Now coyotes are the main problem and we have several livestock protection dogs.

paul watt (not verified)
on Jul 27, 2013

hi I am an unemployed hunter that cant work dew to I am an amputee I want to come and try and help with you problem I hunt from a tree stand and baiting up at night I hunt with a bow as it dose not scare the other animals of and you can get more at once I hunt with laser guided arrow heads so please get in contact with me as I can come and hunt for weeks at a time

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