COMPLIANCE is a dirty word in the world of wild dog control - no one wants to bring out the big stick, even as individual grazing enterprises face the end of their viability and rural communities shrink by the day -but now it looks as though state and local governments are beginning to address the matter.
As landholders at various forums in recent weeks - the state Bestprac forum at Longreach, the Western Queensland Local Government Association conference in Tambo, and the state sheep show at Barcaldine - have been questioning the sense of continuing to put money into wild dog control as some flout the law, Agriculture Minister John McVeigh has announced that his department is developing a pilot project on the best ways to achieve compliance.
Although lips are sealed on what this means, Mr McVeigh says the project will support selected shire councils to enforce the law on wild dog management.
State administrators have always baulked at taking on an enforcement role themselves, a position they continue to hold.
"Shire councils are responsible for ensuring that declared pests are managed within their area," Mr McVeigh said.
"My department helps by providing guidance on the compliance process.
"It is not a simple process for the state to take over responsibility for wild dog compliance, which is why we continue to work to assist local government on this."
Local government itself is keen to see reform in the compliance aspects of wild dog regulations.
According to LGAQ communications manager Craig Johnstone, there are many significant issues for local councils, particularly smaller councils in rural areas.
"We are working with the Department of Agriculture to ensure these compliance issues are addressed with the implementation of the new Biosecurity Act," he said.
"We will work with the four mayors who are members of QDOG to ensure the pilot takes note of local government interests."
At present, the onus is on local government to issue pest-control notices to ensure all landholders 'take reasonable steps' to keep their land free of wild dogs.
It is this terminology that frustrates Longreach Mayor and QDOG member Joe Owens, who has called for a definition of adequate control to help his officers enforce the law.
"No one call tell us - is carrying a rifle in case you see a dog adequate?
"Some people might say they're baiting and get 100kg of meat, and take the whole lot home and bury it.
"We can't enforce anything when there's no definition."
QDOG chairman Ivan Naggs has acknowledged the difficulties involved in enforcing compliance at a local level when compliance officers live in the same community, and said a lot of work needed to be done on the issue.
"It's easy to prove with weeds - you can see they're dead - not so with dogs," he said.