NSW Tablelands, this unique landscape deserves our protection

(relaxing music) – Wild dog problem here is huge and it’s been ongoing and
continues to be ongoing. – In the area, in the last five years, predation has increased tremendously. The amount of dogs we’ve
got out the district in the last three years
has been incredible. – It’s extensive and it’s vast. We record predationary report every month of all the wild dog groups. We record sightings off camera traps. Sightings by someone
just literally seen them driving down the road. Mauling of lamb, sheep, cattle,
deer, that sort of stuff. Since 2011, at least, we
got a fairly rigorous record of production or impacts of wild dogs on livestock producers, yeah. – Last year, we lost around 140 wethers. Five years ago, we lost 110, where they started killing in November. We finally shot the dog in January. So, you work it out. – It’s interesting. The impacts for native
wildlife can be twofold. One can be the direct
predation of those prey animals but also there’s a distinct possibility that there is competition
between the native predators, the spotted tail quolls and I think, like foxes and cats, and also dogs. They share a lot of their diet. It’s very similar. Swamp wallabies and possums are common in the diets of all of them. So there’s a distinct possibility that the quolls are impacted
just by the competition with the dogs, foxes and cats. (helicopter whirring) – With the country we’ve got like that, high, mountainous, ragged gorge country that we have on the tablelands. You know, with a great divide obviously on the eastern side of us. There’s a lot of country we
cannot physically get to, readily by a vehicle or a motorbike or something like that. So aerial baiting is
targeted in those rough inaccessible type areas
where it’s not feasible to get up there by vehicle, so we put out over 3,000
kilometre at 40 baits a kilom, so a hundred and twenty thousand baits. This programme we’re doing just now. It happens in a two week window, so we got a mass coverage
of aerial baiting, coupled with a ground bait that happens in conjunction
with it as well. So it’s a good start to follow
up the spring programmes and the smaller localised programmes, for problem dogs afterwards. – Myself, I’m the Vice President
of the Wild Dog Association also President of Bleacher’s Gully. So the planning with me is
coordinating all my neighbours into the baiting programme,
getting everybody indemnity, so I make sure they all understand, what their responsibility
within the programme is, discussing with them the
necessary involvement, because a hole in a baiting programme, is a place for dogs to go. So, we need a fully coordinated baiting programme to be successful. We can’t do this on our
own, it’s bigger than us. So, land holders are so critical in controlling wild dogs. – You know we start this
programme in January, that is when we start planning, so, we sit down with
each 26 wild dog groups. Well, there’s 26 groups, we have individual meetings with them, we look at maps, we look at topo maps, we look at contour lines, we
look at predation reports, we look at local farmer knowledge,
yeah, satellite imagery. Everything we can put our hands on, we look at that and we devise where we are actually going
to put those bait lines and it’s important to realise
that that doesn’t happen just, we’re not just drawing lines on the map for the sake of drawing lines, we’re putting them where we do believe the dogs are travelling
and there’s a high chance of getting a dog. It is a big programme and
it takes a lot of planning. We have to be committed for the long term with it to have any success. – If you don’t have
coordination in the programme, you get gaps where the
dogs will go and breed and you’re virtually wasting your time. – This programme works
and it happens you know, we that we’re getting
40 baits per kilometre, one every 25 metres and
it happens the whole way across the landscape, so
we know that there is, we know where the pot holes are and we’re trying to close
those holes in every year by putting more aerial baiting or ground baiting programmes in place. The bonus of it is, that it’s
coordinated, it’s broad scale. – Definitely successful,
research has shown that we’re getting over
ninety per cent of the dogs in the area and foxes in the
areas where we’re doing this. So, there’s no doubt
that it is successful, that in terms of asset
protection and maintaining sheep in areas and the mental health of farmers that I’m working with, I’ve
seen some massive gains. So, definitely successful. – And what we’re finding
is, if you want to get a good population of quolls,
the only places where those exist still are where
there’s been long term control programmes for dogs and foxes. (helicopter whirring) – It’s very critical and keeps happening, because there’s a lot
of producers here today, behind me that have lost
anywhere from 600 sheep this year down to probably some that have lost a couple of hundred. Off the top of my head, I can tell you there has been fifteen hundred sheep taken out of the Tenterfield
District in the twelve months. – I would hate to think if we did nothing. I think we wouldn’t have any sheep producers on the Tablelands. Yep, and it’s going to go to cattle, you know, we’re already getting
cattle reports of predation and, you know, fellas up
round Northern Australia, they’re getting really
minimal calving percentages and that’ll happen here as well and we’re already starting
to see that in some areas particularly where sheep
numbers have really declined, in the Wongabinda area for example and there’s a lot of
people gone out of sheep. And the cattle producers
are starting to see, not such a lot of impact but their calving percentages are going down, so, that’s a fairly direct
correlation I think. – So, where you don’t have
control of dogs and foxes, you’re likely to lose some of these iconic, threatened species as well. So, it’s a pretty important process for not just livestock protection but also environmental protection. – If we did nothing it
would be a disaster, we would have certainly no
sheep on the Tablelands, we would be having
impacts on cattle as well and once all the sheep are gone, then we would end up in the same situation with the cattle producers. One of the producers I’ve
been recently working with has just lost eight calves,
you know, in this local area in Tenterfield, so, it
would be a massive downhill, both environmentally and agriculturally. And ultimately there would be no future for our children in the
Northern Tablelands. (gentle music)

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