Queensland’s higher rainfall, comparatively speaking, makes cluster fencing a better proposition here than in other states, according to the man in charge of the stakeholder consultative group for the National Wild Dog Management Advisory Group.
Chairman Geoff Power, who is also the president of Livestock SA, and advisory group members from all parts of Australia, spent two days in western Queensland last week looking at the network of fencing beginning to sprout across the landscape.
As would be expected from a group whose aims are to promote the application of a strategic approach to wild dog management and the development of regional plans, Mr Power said the coordination provided by his group had brought people together to “thrash out problems”, from which cluster fencing came into being.
“Queensland is definitely taking the lead on cluster fencing,” he said.
“One reason why it will work here is you’ve got a relatively high rainfall when it comes to pastoral country, therefore stocking rates will be higher.
“You’ll get a return, whereas if you’re only in a five to six inch rainfall pattern, the area is a lot vaster and the cost of fencing and the viability of doing that is in question.”
There was no question in grazier Paul Doneley’s mind that his investment was paying off, when he hosted the group at Dunraven, west of Barcaldine.
He told them his family’s income had suffered a $10m hit over the last five years, thanks to wild dogs.
“Since the fence has gone up, we’ve not seen a bitten animal,” he said. “Sheep are now using the whole of a paddock again, rather than just staying in a part of it.”
Mr Doneley said fences were not a “silver bullet”, adding he was glad to be a member of an active baiting group that undertook campaigns eight times a year, around waters, despite believing there were not a lot of residual dogs inside the fence.
“It’s another management tool,” he said, of baiting.
Mr Power said the national advisory group would take away a message of capacity building from its exclusion fence inspection of western Queensland.
“Getting rid of the dog problem is the main thing but there’s a lot of other things to consider – people’s emotions, the health and wellbeing of people who’ve got the problem, and people getting together to talk through the problems so they can actually get on top of them,” he said.
“It’s not as if the whole of western Queensland is going to be cluster fenced.
“Hopefully some of those people on the outside will be part of the system. I guess those people are just going to run cattle.”
Mr Power said it was accepted now that if people wanted to run sheep, they had no option but to fence.