Table of Contents:
- Wild dog plague crushing livestock industry
- Gruesome thrill-kills
- 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.