July 16, 2013
First-year results from a new wild dog research project in the NSW Northern Tablelands have found that on top of the benefit to livestock production, cooperative wild dog management could be delivering significant gains for local native wildlife.
Rated the number one research priority by the National Wild Dog Management Advisory Group, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and University of New England study is investigating the roles wild dogs play across agricultural ecosystems.
DPI wild dog researcher, Guy Ballard, said the project was funded by Australian Wool Innovation, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Australian Pest Animal Research Program and DPI to fortify the effectiveness of wild dog and fox management.
“We’ve seen a positive effect on production and biodiversity from our cooperative control programs,” Dr Ballard said.
“Baiting has removed 65 per cent of the wild dogs, 50 per cent of feral cats and 80 per cent of the foxes we’ve tracked with GPS collars on public and private land.
“These early results are encouraging and data gathered during the project’s first year supports what many farmers have long reported – that wild dog control benefits wildlife as well as livestock production.”
Native species, which many feared could be harmed by baiting, have fared well at the baited sites.
Dr Ballard said that endangered spotted-tailed quolls are common on the research sites.
“Out of the18 quolls we fitted with GPS collars just one has died of a suspected high worm burden during the baiting program,” he said.
“A key strength of this project lies in our close connection to land managers, including the Livestock Health and Pest Authority, NPWS and farmers, producing results and sharing them with all the stakeholders.
“Local sheep and cattle producers from Nundle right through to Glen Innes continue to provide vital input to our research.”
As the four-year project progresses to its next phase, the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre and Meat & Livestock Australia have come on board in support of the research to improve the understanding and management of wild dogs.
The NSW Wild Dog Management Strategy promotes the cooperative, nil-tenure approach and results from this research will help finetune wild dog management across the state.