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Wild Dog Tracking Trial Gets Go-ahead

Wild dogs in the Tumbarumba region will be tracked to better understand their movements for targeted baiting and trapping, following a well attended meeting of local landholders last week.

More than 60 people attended the Murray Local Land Services Wild Dog Forum at Tumbarumba on 17 September. Peter O'Shannassy from Murray LLS explained that the 12 month project to collar and track wild dogs was the result of funding from the Australian Government and a partnership involving Riverina LLS, Forestry Corporation, National Parks & Wildlife Service, the local Wild Dog Committees, and landowners.

The meeting was advised that the ongoing program of traditional trapping and baiting will continue and will not be affected by the new project – the two will operate in tandem.

Presentations were made by Peter Fleming from the Vertebrate Pest Research Unit of DPI and Guy Ballard from the University of New England, on the work they have done to track wild dogs with GPS tracking collars adjacent to Wild Rivers and Oxley National Parks, which has a similar landscape to Tumbarumba.

They showed that dog attacks on sheep and other livestock near forests can come from dogs whose home ranges are a significant distance from the attack site, and by tracking the movements of the dogs, both baiting and trapping can be made more effective. Some dogs were tracked travelling over 20km in a week between attacks.

The research also showed that wild dogs can be on a property without the owner ever seeing a dog or evidence of it. They stressed the need for all landholders to work together, because of the highly mobile nature of wild dogs.

Tracking dog movements can also show if the dog is camped near a property, or moving through.

A question and answer session threw up a lot of questions about how to set priorities about where to focus the monitoring, the protocols around collaring and trapping, and how the data will be used.

A motion was carried that the meeting support the wild dog collaring trial and that the Upper Murray and Hume Wild Dog Committees meet with Murray LLS and representatives from the trappers, Forestry Corporation, NPWS/Office of Environment and Heritage and other partners to make recommendations on how the project will proceed. A number of the Wild Dog Committee members were at the meeting and indicated they were keen to hear from landholders with wild dog issues and to talk about the project.

General Manager Murray LLS, Gary Rodda, who facilitated the question and answer session at the meeting, said that he was very pleased with the turnout and positive attitudes which reflected the connection that local officer Stephen Wilson had made with the community over previous years.

"There were a lot of questions and understandably differing opinions about how to manage wild dogs, but we were very pleased with how keen the landholders were about working together on the problem", he added.

The local contact for the project is Stephen Wilson from Murray LLS Lavington office who can be contacted on 6040 4210.