Posts Tagged With: wild dog control

Wild Dog management on Pastoral Land #3

Wild Dog management on Pastoral Land #1

Wild Dog management on Pastoral Land #2

What is 1080
1080 is a colourless, tasteless, odourless chemical that is naturally occurring in some Australian native plants. Its chemical name is sodium fluoroacetate or sodium monfluroacetate and is manufactured as a pesticide. It is a schedule 7 poison under the Poisons and Dangerous Drugs Act; this means its use is very restricted and highly regulated. It is also extremely potent. The reason it is a preferred chemical of use is because it is easily deactivated and breaks down with water, it will not accumulate as a toxic residue in the soil.
Ingestion of 1080 interferes with the animal’s ability to produce energy from its cells that enable basic body function and survival. 1080 disrupts the energy or electrical impulses and communication of the cells in the body causing the central nervous system to collapse and cardiac arrest to occur leading to death.

A medium weight dog of 14.5kg requires ingestion of 1.6mg of 1080 to be lethal, a pig 56.1mg and an 80kg person 160mg.

12.04.13 009_edited-2Picture 1. These are 1080 dry baits, one of these baits is enough to kill an adult dog. The layer of baits is broken up into individual blocks before dispersal around the property.

28.10.15 018_edited-1Picture 2. Some raw meat lumps that are ready to be injected with liquid 1080. Only 0.2ml is injected into each bait but that is enough to kill a dog.

Birds will pick up some of these baits but generally have a much higher tolerance to 1080 and therefore it doesn’t usually kill them unless they manage to find lots of baits and consume all of them which is highly unlikely. Pigs will also eat the baits and again need a much larger dose to be killed. Domestic dogs will eat the baits and it will kill them.
There is no current effective antidote for 1080 though I do believe there is one being developed called Blue Heeler.

We do not have available to us any other effective largescale management tools to control wild dogs. In our environment their tracks are seen but they rarely make appearances. Shooting is not always a practical or efficient method of control.

In years gone past there was a dog bounty in which people who did shoot or trapped dogs, skun and produced the ears, scalp and back hair as evidence of killing to receive a reward. I believe parts of QLD still pay a dog bounty but I haven’t been able to find how much the NT used to do this. My father in law tells me in his day (in the NT) it was enough to earn a reasonable income and supplement the wages they used to receive. Recently Victoria was offering $100 a scalp.
The National Wild dog action plan
Throughout Australia wild dogs are now recognised as having significant social and financial impact on many aspects of agriculture, native fauna and ecology. Not only in their direct impact on livestock through killing and maiming but they have been attributed with spreading a hydatidosis worm and infecting domestic dogs with parvo virus.

In some parts of Australia native animal populations of small ground animals and birds is returning with the control and implementation of wild dog programs Animals return to NW NSW following wild dog culling.
75% of landholders in the NT rate the wild dog problem on their property as severe or extremely severe. Not only due to the financial costs but also the emotional toll that causes distress, anger and a lot of work in caring for injured animals.

Some sheep producers are recognised as suffering a condition similar to post traumatic stress, a condition called hyper vigilance. It is a condition that is beyond simply being aware of a problem or looking for its occurrence, it is an exaggerated emotional intensity in attempting to detect threats, accompanied by very high levels of anxiety that causes exhaustion. Combined with the other pressures producers face of operating their properties, hypervigilance is not a state you can maintain for a long time without health repercussions.
Across every state and Territory in Australia a co-ordinated implementation program was initiated and continues to counter wild dog problems across Australia. In the NT this has been significant for producers like myself that enables controlled baiting programs to occur on our properties.

For the first time in a long time we feel that we are actually getting wild dog numbers under control through use of 1080 baiting programs targeting wild dogs.

The process of 1080 baiting
To seek approval to use 1080 for a wild dog control program I am required to complete
1. Chemical certificate application course and
2. Complete a 1080 training program through an accredited training provider
Only after I have received both of these credentials, which require renewal and retraining every 5 years, can i then apply on behalf of the property each year for;
1. an authorisation to use 1080
2. an approval to purchase 1080 and
3. a permit to take protected wildlife for pest animal control.
This requires a lengthy documented application that details where I will lay the baits according to our property lay out, what signs I will use to warn people of baiting, who will do the baiting and at what time periods.

12.04.13 012_edited-2Picture 3. Example of the 1080 wild dog control baiting notifications.Anywhere that you see a sign of this description or similar exercise caution if you have your own animals with you. There is no antidote for 1080 commercially available yet! While rain is thought to break down bait formulations very quickly there may be a possibility a bait has been laid that is protected from moisture and is still potent and potentially lethal to your animal after rain periods.

If you suspect your pet dog has taken a bait, they may show symptoms of extreme eye dilation, dis-orientation and rapid breathing. Restrain them and cover their eyes to reduce the light awareness with tape and a cloth if needed. You will need to get them to a vet for immediate attention.

This is a 1st_aid_book that has some very helpful information and may be useful for those who have domestic dogs and suspect their animal has picked up a bait. It also has helpful information to increase awareness and prevention of domestic dog accidental baiting.
In regards to a 1080 wild dog program, control and documentation is very strict in that I need to keep records of all aspects of our actions in regards to the baiting program conducted, including notification to neighbours of our baiting and recording of circumstances regarding the baiting process. Including accountability to every single bait used.
If government departments are not satisfied with past record keeping or procedures then they have the right and ability to refuse your future applications.
Only when we receive specific authorisation to conduct a baiting programs are we allowed to then ask agents to purchase dry baits on our behalf or hire a contractor to inject wet baits.

If I am conducting a wet bait program then the person we contract to inject the baits has very specific and legally binding requirements of their actions of injecting meat for us. In this process we will kill a bull or other animal  and  cut several hundred pieces of meat into sections about the size of your fist, approximately 400-500g.

If I purchase dry baits then I must present my original documentation of the permits to the seller and transport those baits in a locked storage container.

Dry baits have a shelf life where as wet baits are used immediately. Neither is necessarily more potent but the attractant of using a a wet bait is often more effective in attracting dogs to take the baits.

We rarely see a wild dog, dead or alive and can only judge the success our baiting programs on the damage as evidenced on our cattle. Previous years we have been conducting dry baiting programs, earlier this year we conducted wet bait and feel confident it was far more effective than the previous dry baits.
We have determined the beneficial use of the wet bait program by visual inspection of our calves and see that they don’t have marks on their ears and bodies, this year has seen a marked decrease in damage to calves seen around the property.
Wild dog control is absolutely essential for the long term health and welfare of our cattle and our own businesses financial future. It is absolutely imperative that wild dog control programs are conducted consistently and effectively at a local, state and national level.

11.10.2013 001_edited-1
Picture – Photo November 2015. Cows and their new drop of calves resting at a trough late in the dry season. This period is our highest calf drop time and also when dog attacks are their most severe.We try to look at all calves on each bore run and see if they have dog damage to their bodies to determine the effectiveness of our wild dog control programs.

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Categories: 1080 baiting, Animal Welfare, Cattle station | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Wild dog management on Pastoral Land #2.

Wild dog management on pastoral land #1

History of dogs in Australia
The Dingo (Canin lupus dingo) derived from wolves in eastern Asia and migrated to Australia approximately 4,500-5,000 years ago. They were possibly assisted in their migration throughout Australia by use as food and companionship by aboriginal people. Feral domestic dogs (Canin lupus familiaris) came to Australia with European settlement; the two Canin species can interbreed and are known as hybrids and are present across all of Australia.

Wild dogs distribution is across all of Australia.

2012 distribution_edited-1Source – AWI ABARES Wild dog management in Australia – document is available for download in the sources at the end of this blog.

night shots #1_edited-1Picture 1. Source – Conservation and Pest Management. A night vision camera captures this image of 5 dogs feeding on a pig carcase purposely established to investigate dog activity in the area.

With innate predator behaviour the dingo and wild dog opportunistically hunt a variety of mammals, native and introduced, birds and reptiles. They will scavenge carrion including rubbish as well as eat plants, fruit, vegetables and eggs.
Each dog requires the equivalent about one fifth (20%) in food and 12% water relative to their own body weight to survive.

They can survive on moisture they obtain from blood and fluids found in prey but generally require a permanent water source for long term survival.
Wild dogs are top order predators, meaning they have few natural enemies, except people. Most people regard them as pests, yet wild dogs may enable important ecological balance by preying on some other species, some of those  being introduced pests themselves, such as rabbits.
The pure Dingo is an annual breeder with mating occurring usually April –May with generally a small litter of 2-3 pups following a gestation of about 2 months. Hybrids or wild dogs tend to breed larger litters, often up to 6-8 pups and can breed sometimes twice per year. The dispersal and increase of hybrid animals has been assisted by development of water points in rural and urban environments and feeding capabilities has been increased due to livestock production across many areas. Domestic dog releases and abandonments including interbreeding from all over Australia has exasperated the problem with hybrid dog numbers exploding in recent years.
A dog’s ability to traverse area depends largely on their environment and conditions, but some have been tracked over thousands of kilometres in only short periods across several months. Pure dingo’s exhibit strong territorial pack behaviours, Hybrids often do not and will wander over large distances thus increasing their chances of food source acquisitions and breeding encounters.

Producers such as myself want to minimise wild dog populations to predominantly protect our cattle but there is the possibility that in killing pure Dingo populations we are upsetting the pack order hierarchy of the pure dingo population. By trying to control wild dog numbers we may actually be causing increased attacks on our livestock by pure dingo populations as the younger generations have not learnt the abilities of their leaders and will attack livestock that are easier and more plentiful than native wildlife to survive. If we remove all dogs from one area we may in fact be causing an vacuum that increases likelihood of dog transitioning from another area as their social order and territorial areas alters.

As with all livestock management and animal welfare issues there is  no easy answer in regards to welfare and economic needs that is plain cut and correct for everyone to follow, We protect one animal by killing another. There has to be some form of balance but at the moment the pendulum is that wild dog numbers are excessive and causing catastrophic non sustainable losses to many livestock production systems.

Impact on Livestock production
From a personal viewpoint the experience of finding animals that are still alive but severely maimed is the most distressing.

As our property is open range we usually find an injured animal a number of days after they have been attacked. Blood poisoning or septicaemia is generally well established, particularly if it is hot humid weather by the time we find the animals.

Due to dog inflicted injuries, the animal is often suffering secondary infections from blow fly maggot infestation or general infection due to dirt entering open wounds. The wounds by their smell and purification sometimes attract other predators including more dogs and pigs; this then initiates a second attack which would usually kill the animal.
Wild dogs can cause significant trauma to the tail, the resulting crush injury is then prone to a condition called ‘tail rot’. Blood flow has been affected to parts of the tail and the tissue dies (necrotic),  this can cause infection to enter the tail and moves up the tail possibly into the spinal cord even leading to meningitis and paralysis of the hind quarter.
We produce cattle and though quiet in nature by pastoral standards these animals are not tame or used to being handled, such as a dairy herd or southern beef herd may be accustomed too. Sometimes we  see livestock injured by dog damage but to capture and attempt to give them some form of medication involves chasing them. This then causes even further stress usually worsening their injuries, increasingly bleeding and pain.

15.12.12 227_edited-1Picture 2 – This weaner is with its mother, having suffered an attack as seen by the scratches on its ears. The animal is in a low body conditioned state as it is late in the dry season when fodder is at is worst nutritional level. We were unable to catch this calf and do not know if it survived.
Sometimes we find calves that have received injuries and are so exhausted from their ordeal we can walk up and capture them, Often they don’t attempt to move away. The mother may be present and  significantly agitated or obviously suffering exhaustion because she has been fighting off a number of dogs over a long duration. Other times the calves have been entirely abandoned.

06.05.2015 070_edited-1Picture 3. A young heifer several months after we captured her. She was lying near a tree with her mother still with her and had suffered a dog attack that tore the muscle and skin from her shoulders and rear end, including her tail and ears, the scar tissue can easily be seen. She recovered eventually but due to her trauma and forced weaning (we removed her from her mum) she remained a small and stunted animal. This calf suffered long periods of repeat infections that went right down her front legs due to skin being pulled from the muscle but not broken, She was tough enough to survive but will never be able to be sold and possibly never be able to breed.

Depending on the injuries and if the calves mother is present, and we can catch the little guys we may  apply medicated sprays that we carry in our vehicles all the time and release the calf to its mother or we may capture the animal and take it home to become a ‘poddy’. Often these animals die as they are unable to handle the combined stress of having been attacked, weaning and the infection and injury assaulting their bodies.
There are times when we have found animals so distressed and with such infection that on approaching them we can smell their rotting flesh, occasionally we can clean these wounds and the animal will survive, other times we have to shoot them. Euthanasia is not a pleasant process for the producer, this is invariably shooting an animal that we are responsible for and feel incredibly sorry for due to the injuries they have received. We are all licensed to carry and discharge firearms.
We conduct a basic record of all animals that we capture for their first branding, keeping a tally of what we regard as a minor or major body damage. These are the animals which have been attacked but have survived, we have no real idea of the ones that have been attacked and have died. A visual inspection is conducted of each animal as we restrain them individually at branding time. If the calf has only a torn ear then we call it minor, if it shows any scar damage especially across its withers (shoulders) legs, rump and particularly if it has no tail then it is regarded as major. We use these records and general observations to plan and implement a wild dog control program.
We have had animals survive dog attacks that come into the yard with their genitals torn and sometimes even missing testicles all together. Often significant scar tissue is around the rump or their tail is gone from  high on the point it joins their backbone. Some animals have slight damage to their ears; others don’t have ears at all. The dogs have attacked them by hanging onto their ears and hindquarters until parts of their body were physically tore away. If the wounds have healed there are often large indentations or obvious deformity in that part of the body.
Some livestock show no obvious impediment from their body damage though the loss of a tail means they have little to combat flies and irritating bugs with. Some recover from unbelievably horrific and deep cuts, while the muscle shape is lost their bodies do seem to adapt to the weakness of those muscles damaged. Some females if their genitals are damaged have difficulty calving due to the extensive scar tissue around their vagina area.

For the animals that survive or have been a victim of a wild dog attack the stress and energy lost in exertion of fighting or running from dogs can be detrimental to the animals health. Especially late in the dry season when body condition is paramount to the long term health of the livestock, reduction of this condition can affect their long term survivability until rains are received.
Reasons for control of wild dogs
I would be lying if I said we didn’t want to control dogs because they fundamentally cost us a financial fortune, but the motivation is also too equally to protect our stock from pain and suffering. We are responsible for the wellbeing of our cattle but at times feel completely helpless in the onslaught they seem to face from wild dogs. Stopping livestock production is not an option, therefore we must find ways to protect our stock.
Many years and again significant amounts of money have gone into enabling the genetics and breeding of livestock animals to occur. Including the supply of significant water and infrastructure development. To achieve the task of having an animal become pregnant and give birth to a live healthy calf is predominantly the aim of what we do. We produce animals.

Wild dogs attack the animals usually the smallest and weakest and destroy our production and profitability. The flow on impact of wild dog damage is massive, yet our very operation actually supports their access to water and easy prey for food.
On the one hand we are protecting our stock, on the other we are destroying another animal to enable our livestock to live.

Some argue the native Dingo should be protected, to a point I do agree but the true pure Dingo is largely non-existent now and I believe they have largely adapted to hunting livestock as they are easier to kill than native animals.
The fact that wild dogs can cause such catastrophic damage as hybrids or in conjunction with each other indicates to me that wild dog numbers are so excessive at present that realistically if businesses are to survive then we must implement significant long term wild dog control programs that control the population.

We are having animals being pulled down and sometimes killed that are over 1 year old and weigh over 200kg, if dogs are injuring these animals then a small calve is hardly going to challenge them who may not be much larger than the dogs themselves.

28.10.15 019_edited-1Picture – A newborn calf with the afterbirth yet to be cleaned by his mother. This calf is still unstable on his legs and will be unstable for several hours after birth. Small calves of this age and size are literally defenceless from a pack of dogs.
In the NT, Dingo’s are regarded as a native species and accordingly they are afforded full legal protection under the Territory Parks & Wildlife conservation Act 2006. It is an offence to possess, interfere or kill dingo’s unless authorised. Wild dogs are not protected and need to be controlled.
How do we control wild dogs without decimating the native Dingo?
Unfortunately current chemicals used in baiting programs to control wild dogs are not specie specific, the baits we lay to kill wild dogs will kill Dingo’s but with controls and strict regulations in place the amount of baits we are allowed including time periods and place allocation enables some populations of the Dingo to survive as we are not allowed to bait however or whenever we like.
There are a number of methods used to control wild dogs but I will explain the 1080 baits that we are authorised to use on our property in the following blog

Wild dog management on Pastoral land #3

Categories: Animal Welfare, Beef Industry, Cattle station | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Wild dog management on Pastoral Land #1

Warning some images in this blog may be upsetting to some viewers.
Please keep in mind livestock producers face these images every day!

I am going to try to present to you the impact of wild dogs on our property, why we need to control them and how we go about controlling them in a series of blogs.

This first blog looks at the impact of animal welfare of livestock due to wild dog attacks and wild dog attack occurences across Australia on a broad scale.

The second blog Wild dog management on Pastoral land #2 looks at wild dog problems in relation to our property

The third blog Wild dog management on Pastoral land #3 looks at methods of control using 1080 baiting of wild dogs.

Trauma to the animals – This is what wild dogs will do to some animals. Many do not survive these attacks!

06.05.2015 068_edited-2Picture #1 – This is a calf of approximately 4 months old, her left ear has nearly been torn off by wild dogs. We captured and transported her home where she was kept her in a hospital pen. She survived.

06.05.2015 097_edited-2Picture #2 – This calf was attacked, both her ears were torn off and her tail has also been ripped off. This animal was so distressed from her ordeal that she didn’t even move when we approached her. An animal lying in this prostrate state is an indication of their utter exhaustion, usually followed by death. We shot this animal to prevent any further suffering.

wound cleaning_edited-1Picture #3 – This is a calf that was attacked several days before we found it. I am cleaning the wounds with  water initially and it is coming out of the puncture holes in his skin down his legs. We gave this animal a broad spectrum antibiotic, applied fly repellent and wound sprays for a number of days including regularly cleaning the wound with salt water. Sometimes the dogs may not actually tear the skin but will cause it to disconnect from the muscle internally. Secondary infection is highly likely after survival of an attack. This calf survived but treatment and eventual recovery was slow and would have been extremely painful.

Trauma to the people – These are a series of quotes and comments in relation to Wild dog attacks, some are my own thoughts.
ABARES – Survey 2011 “Trauma experienced by farmers as a result of prolonged wild dog attacks on livestock was similar to that experienced by people who endured life threatening ordeals like car accidents or heart attacks1

In 2015 each landholder spent an average of 26 days and $7200 a year on management of wild dogs1

In 2004 an estimation of livestock losses across Australia, disease transmission and control costs of wild dogs was $66.3M a year1

In 2011/12 NTCA estimated 60,000 calves and young weaners were killed or maimed due to wild dogs, costing $80M2

If half of those animals are females in the previous quote the loss of ongoing production, assuming a conservative 50% calving rate would be another 15,000 calves once those females had reached production age in each following year. If half of those 15,000 calves were steers then that is a loss of direct sale of a further 7,500 males lost for sale and 7,5000 females lost to production for each following year compounded year on year as those animals would have reached production themselves.
At current (2015) prices of $2.60 per kg for a feeder steer of 330kg to Indonesia year this is a conservative loss of an animal worth a gross value of approximately $850 each

NSW estimates losses of $50M per year due to wild dogs.

A 2009 QLD dog survey showed a presence of dogs in all QLD areas with no populations containing 100% dingo, an earlier study conducted in 2008 showed at least 85% of South East QLD dog populations were hybrid3

Animals deemed faulty can be rejected or discounted in price by up to $1/kg through Australian abattoirs4

Animals showing any form of scar or healed tissue damage due to dog attacks are rejected outright for sale into some live export markets5

11.10.2013 017_edited-1Picture 4 – This is a steer that body wise is suitable for the feeder live export markets of Indonesia or Vietnam, he is approximately 350kg. He couldn’t go to those markets because he has no tail and has scar tissue on the lower left hind leg.

We record damage to new brandings (calving’s for that year) by visual inspection of surviving animals of dog attack. Damage recorded has varied between 8-11% every year. This means that 8-11% of the animals that we capture have some form of dog damage on them, we have no idea how many are born or die directly after birth due to attacks before mustering commences. We estimate a further 10% of calves never survive to weaning due solely to dog attacks. Effectively dogs, damage or kill 20% of our calving drop for each year.

11.10.2013 032_edited-1Picture 5 – A Heifer with a healed ear. This animal has had her entire ear ripped off due to wild dogs

 The following blogs are in relation to wild dog impacts on our property and measures we take to control them.

Wild dog management on Pastoral land #2

Wild dog management on Pastoral land #3

SourceS
1. Wild dog management in Australia – AWI ABARES 2015 wp525_wild_dog_management_in_australia
2. NTCA media release
3. QLD Wild dog strategy
4. ABC rural 27/01/2015
5. Personal Experience – Jo Bloomfield.

Categories: Animal Welfare, cattle stations, Live Exports | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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