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Wool Stocktake : AWI Annual Report 2017-18
Baits being loaded aboard a helicopter for aerial baiting across north-east NSW. state sheep flock. The discovery project in WA managed by Meja Aldrich has discovered the presence of wild dogs almost to the west coast, but in very low numbers. This warning is a significant one for wool and sheep producers in the agricultural region of WA. • Victoria: In partnership with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), the AWI- funded Wild Dog Coordinator positions continue to provide a high level of facilitation for arguably Australia’s most successful community group-based wild dog control programs. The Victorian state government, through DELWP, has again partnered with AWI for a further three years to provide two Wild Dog Coordinator positions: one east of the range in Gippsland, which is job shared between two people (Brian Dowley and Lucy-anne Cobby) to enhance coverage; and the second (Michael Freeman) in the North East based in Wodonga servicing the western side of the Great Dividing Range. Predation has not been totally eliminated, but is controlled to the degree that when an incident occurs, there is a pre-planned and timely response. This capacity for producers and Wild Dog Controllers (DELWP employees) to work together to control predation is to the extent that most producers, most of the time, now feel that they are now back in charge of their sheep production destiny. • NE NSW: The NE NSW Wild Dog Coordinator David Worsley has continued to grow the participation in wild dog control by extending control measures on both private and public lands in both ground and aerial wild dog baiting programs. A measure of this is the emerging demand for access to the NE NSW Coordinator’s time and support from surrounding areas. • The NE and Western NSW: Individually and in conjunction, the wild dog coordinators David Worsley (NE NSW) and Bruce Duncan (Western NSW) have managed the provision of wild dog control techniques training to 180 participants in the highly acclaimed 3-day wild dog control workshops over three consecutive years. These workshops are now drawing participants from across NSW, through a combination of ideal training sites and the provision of very high-quality trainers and training program. The trial marksmanship training course was developed and piloted in two forms in 2017/18: a 1-day women’s and 2-day long-range Sighting-in course. Feedback from both courses was excellent, with clear indications for future demand and potential enhancements. RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT • Wild Dog Alert: Further gains have been made in the digital detection and notification of the presence of wild dogs at a given site. The project identified significant limitations in existing digital imaging equipment, to the extent that an extension of the project has produced an innovation in motion activated detection and transmission equipment. • Trap Alert: AWI has invested a modest amount in the development of current technology to provide an electronic alarm link between set leg-hold traps and their manager (trapper, dogger etc). In conjunction with NSW DPI Vertebrate Pest Research Unit and New Zealand company Encounter Solutions, development trials have been conducted in the extreme high temperatures and associated semi-desert conditions near Moomba in the NE of South Australia. Initial trials appear very promising and further expenditure on this development is likely. The use of leg-hold traps is strictly regulated in all states and one of the principal requirements is the limit on the interval of inspection for traps, and any associated lethal technology. This in turn limits the number of traps a trapper can have set at any one time, due to the time restraint of having to inspect them all within a given time period. If the trapper knows which traps have triggered in the past 24 hours, this allows much greater efficiency in travelling to check traps and minimises the amount of time any trapped animal is held in the trap before being humanely euthanised or released. Using an automated on-property camera trap device that identifies wild dogs, the Wild Dog Alert system aims to notify a woolgrower of a wild dog’s presence in real- time, to enable the woolgrower to act early. REPORT OF 2017/18 OPERATIONS – SHEEP PRODUCTION 29
AWI Annual Report 2016-17