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Farmers bite back with national wild dog action plan
South Australian woolgrower and chairman of the NWDAP Coordination Committee, Geoff Power: “Without the National Wild Dog Action Plan, we wouldn’t have all the tools, strategies and coordinated management we have now.”
According to a recent independent review, the National Wild Dog Action Plan has improved wild dog management across Australia and delivered significant benefits to the community through increased confidence, leadership, capability and investment in wild dog control.
The National Wild Dog Action Plan (NWDAP) is an industry-driven and Government-endorsed initiative that aims to provide a national coordinated approach to wild dog management. The NWDAP was published in May 2014 in response to the increasing impact of wild dogs throughout Australia.
At the broadest level, all investment and activity associated with wild dog management in Australia, from on the ground control funded by local landholders to state cluster fencing initiatives and national wild dog RD&E and policy, falls under the strategic umbrella of the NWDAP.
Specific projects/activities that require collaboration under the NWDAP are funded by both public and industry (private) resources. Key funding partners have included the Federal Department of Agriculture, AWI, MLA and State and Territory Government Departments.
National Wild Dog Management Coordinator Greg Mifsud says the NWDAP was implemented in 2014 following industry demand.
“Peak farming groups, concerned producers and research scientists saw the benefit of a nationally-recognised strategy that would ensure wild dog management was carried out using best practice guidelines and tools that would enable effective, ethical and targeted broadscale management that transcended title boundaries and jurisdictions,” he said.
“Today, the Plan is recognised by industry and governments as the primary strategic mechanism.”
South Australian woolgrower Geoff Power was one of the grassroots agitators for a NWDAP.
“Ten years ago, we had dogs in every mainland state creating havoc, every state’s control approach was ad hoc and areas that were no longer safe to run sheep were getting bigger,” he said.
“The Plan is one of the few initiatives that has grown out of industry, that has united industry, government and researchers, in a common cause. There’s been a lot of goodwill from all sectors wanting to do the right thing. Looking at what has evolved, it’s been a great achievement.”
FIVE-YEAR REVIEW OF NWDAP
An independent review the NWDAP’s initial five-year term (2014-2019) was contracted by AWI on behalf of sheepmeat, cattle, wool and goat industries and the Federal Government.
The review found that the NWDAP achieved or partially achieved 94% of its Action Implementation Requirements indicating a high level of success and achievement of progress towards the NWDAP’s objectives.
Total investment in the NWDAP 2014-2019 was $2.62 million (present value terms). The investment was estimated to produce total benefits with a net present value between $13.31 million and $40.68 million and a benefit-cost ratio between 6.1 and 16.5 to 1.
The direct, primary benefits of the NWDAP investment came from more efficient expenditure (both public and private) on wild dog management, more efficient resource allocation for RD&E investment associated with wild dog management and maintained and/or enhanced social licence to undertake wild dog control.
The review also said that NWDAP contributed significant value through other key outcomes including improved leadership and increased capacity, increased government and industry confidence, and increased leverage and investment for wild dog management at all levels throughout Australia.
Overall, the review found that the NWDAP has been highly successful and should continue to be supported by all stakeholders beyond 2019, however several recommendations to amend and/or improve the NWDAP post-2019 were made.
National Wild Dog Management Coordinator Greg Mifsud says the Victorian Wild Dog Program, an early adopter of the NWDAP’s principles and strategies, is a great example of its effectiveness.
“During the past five years, there has been up to a 71% reduction in number of sheep killed and maimed across the program and, for some Wild Dog Management Zone groups, stock losses have been almost eliminated,” he said.
Federal Department of Agriculture spokesperson Shalan Scholfield said the review has shown how effective collaboration can greatly improve outcomes in managing the negative impacts of established pest animals such as wild dogs.
The NWDAP continues to operate, with work under way on developing and endorsing its next phase to 2030.
This article appeared in the March 2020 edition of AWI’s Beyond the Bale magazine. Reproduction of the article is encouraged, however prior permission must be obtained from the Editor.