Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Wild dog program could close

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The possible abolition of the current Wild Dog Control Program in Victoria could have dire consequences for livestock producers.

The current program, which includes the 3km Livestock Protection Buffer (LPB) zone, expires on October 1st, 2024 with no guarantee of renewal.

The program is governed by an Order in Council, a set structure of legislated guidelines that allow Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) officers to humanely control wild dog populations within the LPB zone.

“The order was renewed last year for only 12 months, during which time farmers and other stakeholders were promised consultation and a count of the wild dog population across Victoria,” said Libbe Paton, North East Wild Dog Action Group.

“Neither of these promises have been upheld to date.

“Naturally, we are very concerned and fear the lack of support from our state government will see the program closed, possibly overnight and before the deadline, as happened in north west Victoria on March 15th.

“This snap decision now protects dingoes on both public and private land, leaving sheep and cattle producers unable to protect their own livestock and being promised only $550,000 for the whole region to ‘invest’ in non-lethal methods of protection such as exclusion fencing and guard animals.

“Apart from the fact that this is a fraction of the money necessary, we know from experience these methods do not work.

“The program is under threat from dingo conservation groups which are making many claims that are incorrect including that the dingo is not a separate species but an ancient breed of domestic dog.

Protection policy based on small sample

“The dingo is listed as canis familiaris (domestic dog) by scientific bodies such as the Australian Faunal Directory,” Ms Paton said.

“It should not be listed as an Australian native species as there is clear evidence it was brought here from Asia.

“Earliest fossil remains are dated to about 3500 years ago.

It contributed to the destruction of the alpha predator at the time, the thylacine and many native species since.

“Nor is there any evidence to support the theory that dingoes keep foxes and cats under control, as claimed by dingo conservationists,” she added.

“In Victoria, the dingo was listed as a threatened, protected species around 2012 under pressure from dingo conservationists. A recent study, claims that 87 per cent of all wild dogs in Victoria are pure bred dingo compared with previous data showing one to three per cent were pure dingo. This study was based on only 62 dog samples of dubious origin in Victoria and was funded by the Dingo Conservation Foundation.

“This formed the basis for the Victorian government’s new policy of dingo protection.”

The North East Wild Dog Action Group, a committee of proactive livestock producers, has been attempting to contact the Minister for Agriculture Ros Spence and Minister for Environment and Outdoor Recreation Steve Dimopoulos, inviting them to visit the region. Minister Dimopoulos has not replied and Minister Spence cancelled her one day visit at short notice and has not confirmed an offer to reschedule.

“We strongly encourage Minister Spence and Minister Dimopoulos to speak directly with the farmers who will bear the full impacts, both financially and mentally, if the current Wild Dog Control Program ceases,” Ms Paton said.

“We request that any data on wild dog populations in the Victorian high country and surrounding areas that has been collected since the order was created, be brought forward and palced on the table for discussion.

“We also highlight the very high environmental and biosecurity risks associated with the closure of the program and wild dogs becoming ‘protected’.

“We also recognise the flow-on effects to businesses, the wider industries and those who value by-products from our sheep industry. Hydatids and neosporosis should not be overlooked in the management of our sheep industry.

“In 2020-21, Victoria accounted for 47 per cent of Australia’s sheep meat production, making it the country’s largest sheep meat producer. The state’s sheep meat export was valued at $1.9 billion – representing 43 per cent of all meat exports – making it Australia’s highest sheep meat exporter.

“The United States is Victoria’s highest-value market for sheep meat export (valued at $598 million), followed by China ($206 million) and Malaysia ($165 million).

“We are asking all livestock producers, landholders and communities that hold the same opinions and fears as our group, to write to both ministers and encourage your networks to do the same.

“If you need support with your submissions contact us via email and we can assist you. We are also running a petition which can be accessed via email.”

Contact the group at northeast.wilddogs@gmail.com.

They will also be on site at the Tallangatta Expo on Thursday April 18th to discuss the implications of the wild dog program being abolished. The petition will also be available for signature.

Corryong Courier 28 March 2024

This article appeared in the Corryong Courier, 28 March 2024.

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