THEY have 90 per cent dingo DNA and they’re moving further west, but wild dogs are being targeted by a group of landholders doing everything they can to protect their stock.
Central Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) senior biosecurity officer Alistair Gordon-Smith said there were an estimated 10-20 animals in the Mullion Creek and Clergate areas, while towards Bathurst and through to Lithgow, numbers were approaching hundreds.
“Traditionally people think they affect sheep producers but nowadays basically all livestock are at risk,” he said.
“We’re getting increasing reports of calves being attacked and horses as well – more so if it’s a pack of dogs as opposed to individual dogs.”
In the Mullion Creek area, the animals have usually been spotted individually and only once in a pair, but they have still been responsible for many sheep fatalities.
MAP: Where wild dogs have attacked or been spotted across the region
Sheep producers Peter and Margaret Wykes said they had lost an estimated 40 sheep in the past couple of years across their Mullion Creek and Euchareena properties, and a neighbour had lost about 30.
“They might have a patch of white on the foot or on the tail, but otherwise, they’re all yellow, about the size of a greyhound,” Mr Wykes said.
“It’s the most terrible feeling to go to your livestock and seeing them mauled or killed and some with pieces out of their legs.”
The problem prompted landholders to form the West Macquarie Pest Group, which has been working alongside the LLS.
It has started biannual baiting and is set to receive more than $23,000 from the state government to help with trapping.
Mr Gordon-Smith urged anyone who spotted a wild dog to report it to the LLS by calling 1300 795 299.
Landowners can also call the number to get involved with their closest pest group.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is also working on a wild dog alert system to sending real-time messages about dogs’ presence directly to producers, hoping to have a working prototype by next year.
The solar-powered system uses 360-degree sensors, an in-built camera, recognition software and satellite communication to detect dogs and send an alert.
DPI invasive species officer Paul Meek said the system provided an opportunity to detect dogs before they attacked and in remote locations.
“Landholders can take instant action and work with wild dog management groups to immediately address issues, not days after wild dogs cause carnage,” he said.