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The primary goal of wild dog control is to reduce livestock losses. Wild dogs may have large home ranges that include a number of land holdings. Therefore it is important for land managers to approach wild dog problems as a group. A general aim of reducing wild dog numbers might not reduce their impact because a few individual dogs may be causing most of the damage.
The aim of wild dog control should be to minimise the likelihood of wild dogs interacting with domestic livestock. No single control technique will solve a persistent wild dog predation problem. A combination of methods, such as ground or aerial baiting, trapping, shooting and fencing should be applied if the impacts of those pest animals are to be successfully managed.
To aid wild dog management two planning documents have been developed. Together, these two documents outline a six-step approach to strategic management. The approach aims to help stakeholders develop a wild dog management plan specific to their local area.
The first document is the brown book, this is a guide for stakeholders in preparing a working plan to manage wild dogs. The second is the green book, a writable document that when filled in, will be the wild dog management plan for the area.
Wild dog poisoning with 1080 in NSW is regulated by the Pesticide Act 1999 and can be carried out only under the conditions set down in the current 1080 Pesticide Control Order (PCO). Copies of the 1080 PCO can be obtained on line from the EPA or your Local Land Services.
The use of 1080 currently requires a minimum chemical use accreditation at AQF3 or the EPA accredited course delivered by Local Land Services. Fresh meat and manufactured baits containing 1080 are available from Local Land Services.
Distance restrictions from habitation, boundaries, roads and water sources; signage which must be displayed, before and for one month after the baiting program; notification of all neighbours within 1 kilometre of the baiting location; are all conditions contained in the current 1080 PCO .
For ground baiting, where practical, 1080 wild dog baits should be laid in such a way that uneaten baits can be found readily and destroyed. These baits should be placed in a shallow depression and lightly covered with earth. If practical, tether the baits to a fence or equivalent and mark the burial spot.
Ground baiting may be used when there is predation problem caused by wild dogs. The use of more than fifty 1080 baits on a large property or number of properties must be organised by an ACO employed by Local Land Services or equivalent organisation. The ACO , who supplies the 1080 baits, must undertake a risk assessment of the program.
A person who lays 1080 baits on a property of less than 100 ha must check the baits within five days of laying the baits and must collect any untaken baits within seven days. All untaken baits are to be disposed of by deep burial as detailed in the current 1080 PCO . Replacement baiting for longer than seven days may occur if baits continue to be taken.
A person whose livestock are being injured, killed or harassed can lay up to 16 baits per 100 ha to a maximum of fifty 1080 baits, with the prior approval of an ACO . This is the only occasion where the normal 3 day public notice period is not required. The land manager must, however, notify anyone whose property boundary lies within 1km of a baiting location immediately before laying the baits. Where soil conditions allow, baits must be placed in a shallow hole and covered with earth. If practical, tether baits to a fence or fixed object to reduce the poisoning risk to non-target animals.
Bait stations may be set up using meat or manufactured 1080 baits. The baits are lightly covered by raked sand or soil or placed on the surface and soil mounded on top. The soil around the bait or mound is raked to form a square about 1 m2. This allows for the identification of animals that visit the mound through tracks and scat observation. Soil from the immediate area is preferred because it avoids unusual odours that wild dogs may avoid. Wild dogs will often tear the bait mound apart to get the bait while foxes mostly make a neat hole in one side or above.
Wild dogs cover enough ground to encounter bait stations from 500 to 1000 metres apart. Fewer bait stations not only equates to fewer opportunities for non-target animals to take baits, it also means fewer opportunities for baits to be removed by foxes and cached elsewhere. When reducing the number of stations it is preferable to increase the area being baited and extend the length of time for which the baits are available.
Free feeding using non-poisonous baits in bait stations may be carried out to identify visitation by non-target species such as quolls. Bait stations visited by non-target species are discontinued. The remaining bait stations may then poisoned with a single 1080 poisoned bait and regularly checked. Baiting should continue until wild dogs stop taking baits. Individual bait stations may then be stopped if non-target animals are taking poison bait.
Written approval is required from NSW DPI to conduct wild dog aerial baiting programs from helicopters or fixed wing aircraft in NSW. Aerial baiting can be conducted from fixed wing aircraft only in the Western Division of NSW. The conditions for approval of wild dog aerial baiting programs, are stated in the current 1080 PCO .
Aerial baiting is arranged through Local Land Services in close cooperation with the local Wild Dog Control Associations and relevant government agencies such as NPWS , Forestry Corporation of NSW, Land & Property Information (LPI) and local government.
The application form is available from Local Land Services.
Information required on the application form includes:
NPWS are required to submit separate applications for aerial baiting of National Park estates.
If required, Local Land Services may implement more than one aerial baiting program each year. However, each case for aerial baiting will require a new application and approval and must meet the established criteria. It is essential to establish through accurate historical data that predation is occurring or there is a high probability that it is likely to occur.
The local Wild Dog Control Association meets with the ACO from Local Land Services, private land managers and government agencies such as Forestry Corporation of NSW, LPI and NPWS to prepare an application for Aerial Baiting for Wild Dog Control. Written approval from Forestry Corporation of NSW and LPI is submitted with the application.
At the meeting the application and maps may be modified if necessary. The fully completed application and maps of proposed bait transects and all the necessary public land manager approvals are submitted at least two months before the proposed date of baiting to NSW DPI.
NPWS is required to submit applications through their department for aerial baiting of National Park estates so sufficient time should be allowed for processing.
NSW DPI must consider the aerial baiting conditions stated in the current 1080 PCO when assessing the necessity of the proposed aerial baiting program. The history of predation, wild dog sightings and sign, a description of the terrain, the maps and that the proposed baiting is part of an agreed and signed Wild Dog Management Plan, in most cases, is sufficient to justify ongoing aerial bait transects or changes in bait transects.
The mapped bait flight paths must be digitised for the GPS navigation system in the helicopter prior to the aerial baiting program. Bait flight paths may be changed with prior approval of NSW DPI as long as amended digitised maps of the bait flight paths are completed prior to the program.
Approvals are usually sent directly to the applicant, in most cases, either Local Land Services or NPWS Regional Manager.
Written approval usually specifies that NSW DPI is sent the flight log from the GPS in the aircraft within three weeks of the aerial baiting operation.
Participating land holders and managers must abide by all the conditions for use of 1080 wild dog baits in the current PCO for 1080 liquid concentrate.
On the baiting day, Local Land Services must ensure that all indemnity forms are signed and delete from the maps any areas that are not covered by indemnity forms.
It is the responsibility of the aircraft pilot to ensure that the digitised bait flight paths are uploaded to the GPS, navigation system prior to each bait drop and that bait is placed as accurately as practical along these pre-approved bait flight paths.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that relevant distance restrictions for the placement of baits are followed, the bait does not exceed the quantities specified in the current PCO for 1080 liquid concentrate and other conditions in the PCO are adhered to.
Where possible, Wild Dog Control Associations should arrange aerial baiting programs to coordinate with neighbouring Associations.
Trapping wild dogs is best conducted by experienced or trained operators. Only soft-jawed or padded jawed spring traps may be used for the control of wild dogs in NSW.
Traps are best used in conjunction with other control techniques and may be very effective after a coordinated baiting program to control wild dogs that did not pick up a bait. Trapping is often the only means of removing some problem dogs.
Wild dogs often use well known paths to travel around their territory so the best place to set a trap is either on or near a regular dog path. Wild dogs scent mark these paths with urine, so trappers may use trained dogs to identify fresh wild dog sign and place their traps. Wild dogs may be attracted to the trap location by using a lure. Research has shown that the most attractive lures for wild dogs contain dog urine. Manufactured lures, including FeralMone™ SFE have been developed to attract wild dogs and foxes.
Trappers also set traps on scratchings known as 'rakes'. Setting traps around old animal carcases or with food lures is not recommended because it tends to attract other nontarget species such as quolls, goannas or birds.
Wild dog traps should only be anchored to stakes or fixed objects if there is a shock absorbing device such as an in-line spring fitted to the short anchor chain, approximately 50 cm and a swivel attaching the chain to the trap. Alternatively the trap may be tied to logs or objects, know as 'drags', with approximately 2 m of chain that will move when the dog pulls against the trap. These techniques are designed to prevent unnecessary injuries.
Traps should be visited at least once each day. It is preferable to set traps at the end of each day and check them in the morning. Where daily checking is impracticable strychnine cloths available from Local Land Services's, may be wrapped around the jaws so that wild dogs die quickly, rather than from exposure or thirst.
Trapped wild dogs should be euthanased as quickly as possible by a single shot to the brain.
Shooting may be effective in situations where wild dogs are known to be in the area. A shooter may be able to " howl up " the wild dog or dispatch an animal that has established a regular pattern of visiting a particular paddock.
Most shooting however is opportunistic. Shooting can play an important role in controlling wild dogs, but usually does not have as significant an impact on a regional basis as poisoning.
Electronic callers, predator calls and trail/game cameras can be used to increase the numbers of dogs shot.
Barrier fencing may include conventional and electric fencing, or electrified outrigging of conventional fences. Barrier fencing may only provide an effective barrier to wild dogs providing it is adequately maintained.
Conventional fences are generally not as effective a barrier as kangaroos, wombats and feral pigs quickly create holes in the fence, leaving an opening for a wild dog. Two electrified outriggers on fences can be a more effective barrier. When designing electric fences it is important to consider the behaviour of wild dogs. As a general rule, wild dogs prefer to push through, push under or dig under the fence.
Most land managers upgrade existing old fences with electric outriggers or construct a much cheaper all-electric fence. Electric barrier fences are of particular help when a property adjoins wild dog habitat or when neighbours neglect control. Regular maintenance and the incorporation of a monitoring system into the fence will assist supervision.
Guard dogs have been used for centuries in Europe to protect sheep and goats from wolves and, more recently, in America against coyotes. Guard dogs take many forms and the Maremma is the most common breed.
Recent research indicates when properly trained and maintained, guard dogs have a high fidelity to the fields where they are placed. Poor training and inadequate feeding of guard dogs however may contribute to predation problems instead of lessening them. Guardian dogs are also susceptible to 1080.
Other animals such as llamas and donkeys have been used to protect livestock on some properties.
Individual dogs or dog packs, wild or domestic creating a nuisance within a town or village are the responsibility of the local government.
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Further information is also available at PestSmart Connect