Call for landholder respect in wild dog debate

Graziers, peak bodies respond to Landholders for Dingoes

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AgForce cattle chairman Will Wilson says the call by Landholders for Dingoes to leave wild dogs in the environment doesn't take into account that the animals don't stay within property boundaries.

AgForce cattle chairman Will Wilson says the call by Landholders for Dingoes to leave wild dogs in the environment doesn't take into account that the animals don't stay within property boundaries.

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An acknowledgement that wild dogs don't respect boundaries must be respected by the Landholders for Dingoes group, according to Queensland producers and peak body representatives.

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An acknowledgement that wild dogs don't respect boundaries must be respected by the Landholders for Dingoes group, according to Queensland producers and peak body representatives.

The newly launched body, which has members in most states, has initiated ripples of comment with its claim that members are reaping business and environmental benefits in keeping wild dogs on their properties.

Queensland spokesman, Longreach grazier Angus Emmott said it was unfortunate that organisations driving the persecution of wild dogs, citing Meat & Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation, and the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, focused only on killing them.

"Research and practical experience show that there are economic, ecological and social benefits that can arise from retaining dingoes on the land. We need to look at the benefits as well as possible costs," Mr Emmott said.

AgForce cattle committee chairman Will Wilson, a fourth generation cattleman from Calliope in central Queensland, said he recognised that people had different views on the role of wild dogs, but the risk they posed to rural economies couldn't be ignored.

"Wild dogs don't recognise boundaries, and the control of them needs to be community shared," he said. "I understand Mr Emmott runs a backgrounding operation - I do too, and our cattle aren't as much risk from wild dogs, but dogs are harmful to our neighbours."

In Queensland, wild dogs are a declared pest, and Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the Biosecurity Act 2014 required everyone to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise risks associated with invasive animals under their control.

"Biosecurity is everyone's business, and landholders have a general biosecurity obligation when it comes to declared pests on their land," he said.

Mr Furner threw the responsibility for ensuring landholders managed them to local government, saying they must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area.

Longreach Regional Council policy documents include one on feral animal bounties, which provides an incentive to landholders and community members to control and reduce feral animal species located on properties, to meet the obligations of the Act.

Mayor Tony Rayner said council's policy supported baiting programs and he had no indication they would be thinking of changing that.

"Landholders for Dingoes has begun an interesting and in some ways provocative discussion but I've not heard any support for it," he said.

Some social media comment on the group's aims has pointed to positive ecological impact of reintroducing wolves in America's Yellowstone National Park, while others say more people than acknowledged are pretending to control wild dogs, because of the stigma associated with not doing so.

Phil Spackman manages a self-replacing Merino and trade cattle business in the Isisford district and is the president of the Isisford Sheep and Wool Show, and had questions about the alpha male concept of the top dog keeping wild dog numbers down.

"They might keep the other dogs out but those dogs have got to go somewhere," he said.

"It's fine for Angus to do what he wants to for his business but he should contain it to his business.

"I think he should put a fence up so what he does doesn't affect anyone else."

Over $60m has been expended by the state government in Queensland since 2015 on exclusion fences in a bid to protect sheep and goat enterprises from wild dogs, and to manage grazing pressure.

Jack Quinn grazes cattle in the same area as Angus Emmott south of Longreach and while he doesn't have a fence up, he says that in the 10 years he's been at Hickleton, he's finally got a handle on wild dogs through a combination of baiting and trapping.

"They were killing my calves but I haven't had a bitten calf for a couple of years now," he said.

Before moving to Longreach he and his family ran cattle for generations in the Nebo area, where he said wild dogs were killing for fun.

"In my experience, dogs and livestock don't mix," he said. "If you get a dog bite, the value of that animal is just gone."

Will Wilson said representatives from a number of peak industry bodies, including the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association, had expressed grave concerns about the Landholders for Dingoes aims to him.

"They say it shows no respect for others in the industry," he said.

Even more concerning to him was the possibility of it tugging on the heart strings of left-leaning supporters, who could build pressure for a case that controlling wild dogs was not good.

"Then they could impose their view on high risk areas and cause so many issues," Mr Wilson said.

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