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Lower Nebine Trials Zoom-in on Pest Options

Posted by Bestprac on Jan 23 2012

Unbeknown to the wild dogs, pigs, cats and foxes of the Nebine catchment, Candid Camera of a different sort has arrived in the area with the recent delivery of remote monitoring equipment to the Lower Nebine Bestprac Group.

Frustrated with adult sheep losses and poor lambing percentages the Lower Nebine Bestprac Group were successful in gaining $20,000 in funding via the Caring for Our Country program and will use the funds to explore and trial various options to manage pest animals.

Lower Nebine Bestprac Group facilitator, Mr Ross Webster said that whilst wild dogs are frequently an issue for producers in the area, it was a cruel irony that after many years of drought, recent good seasons had seen a rapid increase in the numbers of not only wild dogs, but other species such as pigs, foxes and cats.

 
 
The infamous four targeted by Lower Nebine Bestprac group in their pest management program.
 

“We 1080 bait aerially twice a year for wild dogs and that covers a fair chunk of ground but we were finding that we were only holding back the tide” he said. “Despite our individual control programs, we discussed as a Bestprac Group the need for a co-ordinated approach – and this is where the project came from.”

Ross said that training is a key component of the project. A workshop will be held in Bollon late in August covering both the theory and practice of different control strategies for wild dos, pigs, foxes and cats. Held over three days, the workshop will cover topics such as wild dog behaviour and ecology, wild dog trapping techniques and trap types, wild dog howling techniques, and presentations on guardian species such as donkeys, alpacas and maremma dogs. A professional dog trapper will also be on hand to show participants how to track dogs and set up traps.

“We need to learn better ways of targeting these species” Ross said. “By providing training and information we can then implement appropriate strategies on our own properties.”

Following the training will be a range of targeted on-ground works, and whilst the group are in the early stages of planning for these trials they are excited about the next stage.

“We have just received our infra red monitoring cameras and we are setting them up on sites where we think there are a high density of pigs, foxes, cats and dogs” said Ross. “This will help us so best place the trials so we can determine how to tackle these animals.”

There will be nine remote monitoring sites covering a radius of approximately 50 kilometres. Monitoring sites will be rotated around to give a ‘snapshot’ of pest numbers over the area. Ross said that the monitoring equipment is simple to operate and consists of a digital camera contained within a weather proof case. Any motion or movement detected will trigger a photograph which can later be downloaded onto computer.

“Once we get some data using photographs from the sites, the Bestprac group will meet and decide where to go from there.”

An interim report is due at the end of August outlining the initial stages of the project, including the training workshops and best locations to place both pig and wild dog traps as part of phase 2.

Whilst in the early stages of the project, Ross says that there is unlikely to be any one ‘silver bullet’ and that a combination of approaches is needed.

“To date we have found that foxes and cats are relatively easy to control with 1080 baits, and this has led to a big increase in smaller native animals including Dunnarts and Echidnas.
Wild dogs and pigs are the hardest to control” he said.

“In the past we have had success bringing in a professional dogger. We use 1080 baits prior to him arriving and that gets rid of pups and the easy ones leaving the tricky ones for the dogger.”

Ross said that one of the advantages of the project is teaching people the skills to implement strategies themselves.

“The dogger is very busy and hard to get when you need him so we hope that by using his knowledge, experiences and tricks of the trade we will be able to not only have traps on-hand when we a dog problem arises, we can set them ourselves.”

For now a lot of effort is being put into the August workshop program and with much interest in the days already being expressed, Ross is hopeful the day will be successful. As to results from the trials, Ross says “watch this space...”

 

Last changed: Jan 23 2012

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