The Victorian Government’s relaunch of a $120 bounty on wild dogs is a big win for farmers and landholders. The extra incentive is likely to help curb the estimated $18 million per year cost to Victorian livestock caused by wild dogs.
SSAA National Wildlife Programs Leader Matthew Godson welcomed the reintroduction of the scheme. “The bounty is certainly a good way for shooters to offset some of the costs of pest control,” he said. “Many shooters and hunters volunteer time to undertake pest control so any money towards fuel or supplies would be much appreciated.”
Wild dog skin collections will occur between March and October 2017 in designated areas throughout northern Victoria and Gippsland. In 2013-14, 587 pelts were claimed, with another 480 wild dogs caught by government wild dog collectors. The bounty is available to Victorian landholders and residents in those areas, as well as members of the SSAA and other shooting groups in the state.
While much of the program focuses on controlling wild dogs, it will also aim to protect dingoes. In addition to being a valued native species, studies have shown that dingoes do their part in controlling pests such as foxes and feral cats. The $10 bounty received for foxes will remain in place in conjunction with the wild dog payment.
Alongside the wild dog bounty there will be a new Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee established by Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford, who said wild dogs are a huge issue for farmers. “This committee will build on what’s already been done as part of an integrated approach to wild dog management,” said Ms Pulford. “We’re supporting farmers across regional Victoria with a comprehensive suite of measures which gives local communities a voice on how it should be managed.”
The other methods to control the wild dogs will be used in unison with the bounty. One plan is to drop 4000 fresh meat baits along 400km of public land in the Burrowa, Bullhead and Wabba areas of the Upper Murray as well as parts of East Gippsland. However, ground shooting continues to be one of the most effective and humane methods of controlling the wild dog population.