Integrated wild dog control
In Victoria, feral or wild populations of dog and dingo-dog hybrids (Canis lupus familiaris and canis lupus familiaris x canis lupis dingo) are declared established pest animals.
Under the Catchment and Land Protection Act (1994) all landowners have a responsibility to prevent the spread of, and as far as possible eradicate, established pest animals from their land.
See invasive animal classifications for more information.
Wild dogs and dingo-dog hybrids are referred to as wild dogs.
In Victoria, the Dingo (Canis lupus dingo) is listed as a 'threatened' species under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988) and as a result is protected under the Wildlife Act (1975).
Dingoes often occur in areas inhabited by wild dogs, appear morphologically similar to wild dogs and are extremely difficult to visibly differentiate from wild dogs. This means that wild dog control programs have the potential to directly impact on dingoes.
To allow for the protection and conservation of dingoes in remote areas, as well as provide for the legal control of wild dogs, dingoes have been declared unprotected under the Wildlife Act (1975) in certain areas. More information is available from the Department of the Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) – dingoes.
Government commitment and focus area
The Government has:
- committed to an effective wild dog program centred around community involvement
- made wild dog control a priority
- prioritised support for affected landholders to reduce the impact of wild dogs.
Agriculture Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) work proactively with managers of land bordering public land and with the community to reduce wild dog impacts on livestock.
Landholders can participate in the management of wild dogs across the state by:
- implementing integrated control measures on their property
- participating in community-based programs
- providing local knowledge and information to others undertaking control activities in their immediate area.
How the focus area for wild dog management is determined
Losses of livestock due to wild dog attack are usually confined to properties next to public land. The focus for wild dog management is protecting livestock by controlling wild dogs in the buffer zone between public and private land and on private land.
Wild Dog Management Zone (WDMZ) work plans are developed annually by the community, industry and government. They create a shared understanding that helps stakeholders to work effectively together to reduce the impacts of wild dogs.
Research shows that many wild dogs spend most of their time in tightly defended territories. On this basis, control measures in remote areas of public land distant from farm land are unlikely to reduce the impacts of wild dogs on livestock.
An integrated approach
We advocate an integrated approach to managing wild dogs incorporating a combination of appropriate wild dog control techniques for the target area across tenures.
Collaboration with all land managers and community, and continuous improvement through review and evaluation of control programs are also important for success.
Control programs should be strategic and focussed where livestock predation is greatest.
Land managers have a range of lethal control tools including proactive poison baiting with ‘1080’ (pronounced ten-eighty) or PAPP as well as trapping and shooting. Proactive baiting is considered a cost-effective component of an integrated wild dog management program.
Private land managers are also encouraged to use guardian animals (maremma dogs or alpacas), protective on-farm animal husbandry practices, and appropriately maintained exclusion fencing as means of reducing the impacts of wild dogs at a local level.
The Victorian Government also invests in research to support the development of a strategic, science based wild dog management program.
A successful program requires a strategic and proactive approach where all land managers, the community and the Government work together to protect livestock from the impacts of wild dogs.
Report wild dogs
Report wild dog incidents to your local DELWP senior wild dog controller (WDC).
Table 1: Contact details of wild dog controllers across Victoria
|Senior WDC||Localities||Contact number|
Corryong: Biggara, Nariel, Lucyvale, Cudgewa, Tintaldra, Walwa, Burrowye, Shelley, Mt. Alfred
Tallangatta: Koetong, Granya, Tallangatta Valley, Mitta Valley, Sandy Creek, Gundowring
Ovens: Myrtleford, Bright, Mt. Beauty, Whitfield, Cheshunt
Mansfield: Merrijig, Jamieson, Alexandra, Yea, Molesworth, Jamieson
Bairnsdale: Dargo, Omeo, Swift's Creek
Ellinbank: Heyfield, Licola, Maffra
Buchan, Gelantipy, Orbost, Cann River, Bonang, Bendoc, Tubbut, Deddick, Gembrook, Noojee
Big Desert, Wyperfield
Points to remember:
- Wild dog control is achieved efficiently and effectively through a combination of control measures implemented at a landscape scale using a community based approach.
- Wild dogs are highly mobile and can travel up to 20km per night.
- Wild dog control needs to be ongoing as wild dogs re-invade areas after successful control measures are applied.
- Take precautions to ensure your wild dog control program doesn't affect non target species including native wildlife.
- If control may result in any disturbance of native vegetation, culturally significant areas or waterways, you should contact the responsible department authority, cultural heritage and Catchment Management Authority prior to works being conducted.
- Any use of traps to control wild dogs must comply with the requirements of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2019. Trapping has several animal welfare implications and anyone considering trapping should read important further information on Humane Vertebrate Pest Control.
If using chemicals to control wild dogs all applicable requirements of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 and Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Regulations 2007 must be met.
Users of 1080 or PAPP must be authorised by holding an Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP) endorsed for 1080 and PAPP use or another form of authorisation under the Act. Users of 1080 and PAPP must adhere to the Directions for Use of PAPP and 1080 pest animal bait products in Victoria and the chemical label, and keep records of use in accordance with the regulations Chemical use record sheets, ACUP application forms. Further information regarding agricultural chemical use can be found in chemicals.
Planning your program
Planning can maximise the effectiveness of wild dog control while minimising unwanted effects on domestic animals and wildlife. Consider the locality in which the wild dogs are living as this will determine what action is appropriate. The following steps will help in planning.
Wild dogs are highly mobile, widely distributed with the ability to quickly move throughout an area, control is rarely effective if carried out in isolation.
A group of landholders tackling the whole problem in a simultaneous and coordinated manner will be more successful than isolated individuals tackling only part of the problem. Control programs are most effective when conducted as part of a co-ordinated landholder group or district wide basis to maximise long-term wild dog control.
Wild dogs don't respect any boundaries so the managers of all land tenures need to participate to develop and implement a successful ongoing control program.
Automated remote ('trail') cameras are a useful tool to determine the presence, identity, number and activity patterns of suspected wild dogs. Images from such cameras help to confirm the presence of wild dogs, allowing the manager to determine appropriate actions.
Set up remote cameras at sites such as at water points, holes in fences, carcasses or game trails where you suspect wild dog activity.
Information from monitoring can be used to determine baiting rates (in accordance with label instructions), the number of traps required and the suitability of trap or bait sites.
Ongoing monitoring at known wild dog activity sites can help to detect and manage wild dogs before they become a problem. For example, wild dogs may visit carcasses before they kill stock, if you can detect their presence you will have a better chance of minimising wild dog impacts.
Information from remote cameras can be used to help reduce off-target damage for bait and trap sites but providing information on what other species may visit a site, allowing the manager to adjust control measures accordingly. Off-target damage can also be reduced by limiting baiting periods to times when wild dogs are known to be active at a particular site.
1080 wild dog baits registered for use in Victoria may be shelf stable manufactured baits or fresh meat baits . Shelf stable baits can be stored for longer and have a greater maximum period for placement and are easier to use than fresh meat baits. Both shelf stable and fresh meat baits effectively control wild dogs.
PAPP wild dog baits registered for use in Victoria are only available as shelf stable manufactured baits.
Use local knowledge and the results of monitoring to determine the optimal baiting rate in your area. When determining baiting rates, always refer to the product label and Directions for use of PAPP and 1080 pest animal bait products in Victoria.
When to bait
If you have limited resources the most effective time to bait wild dogs is during autumn to coincide with the mating season when wild dogs are actively travelling to seek mates and during spring when juvenile wild dogs can be targeted more easily.
To reduce the wild dog population in the long term (to control wild dog impacts across the whole year), ongoing baiting must be carried out at the landscape scale.
Where to bait
Baits distributed throughout the property in locations of known wild dog movement will provide optimum opportunity for baits to be taken.
Areas favourable to wild dog movement include:
- vehicle tracks
- fence and creek lines
- gullies and ridges
- contour banks
- vegetation borders
- watering points
Wild dog baits must be buried as per Directions for use of PAPP and 1080 to reduce the likelihood of off target damage.
A person must be authorised to use 1080 or PAPP or be directly supervised by an appropriately authorised person.
Be aware: the larger the area baited, the greater the protection and the longer it takes for wild dogs to reach the core area you wish to protect.
Canid Pest Ejectors
Canid Pest Ejectors (CPEs) are a relatively new tool for managing foxes and wild dogs in Australia and they can essentially be used in the same way that you would use wild dog or fox baits.
CPEs are a mechanical device designed to deliver a measured dose 1080 or PAPP directly into the mouth of wild dogs and foxes. The device is activated when a wild dog or fox pulls firmly (with a force greater than 1.6kg) in an upward motion on the lure head. This triggers a spring-loaded mechanism that drives a piston into the poison filled capsule, which propels its (powder or liquid) contents directly into the mouth of the animal.
Advantages of CPEs:
- Poison capsules are sealed and protected from the weather meaning the toxin remains viable until the CPE is activated by a wild dog or fox.
- The device is driven into the ground with only the lure head protruding,
thereforeso it cannot be easily moved or cached by target or non-target species.
- The device can only be activated by an upward pull force greater than 1.6kg, which is difficult for many smaller non-target species to achieve (confirmed via extensive field research).
- The CPEs can be used many times as long as they are well maintained.
- A variety of lure heads can be used to optimise the attractiveness of the CPEs to wild dogs.
Limitations of CPEs:
- Lure heads deteriorate over time so they must be replaced periodically to ensure they remain attractive.
- CPEs are a risk to domestic dogs as they can also achieve the required pull force required to activate the device. This requires that working or pet dogs be prevented from roaming in areas where CPEs are active, so that they do not encounter and potentially trigger a CPE.
- 1080 and PAPP capsules can be purchased for use on wild dogs in Victoria, but users must have appropriate accreditation such as an Agricultural Chemical Users Permit (ACUP) with a 1080 and PAPP endorsement. It is also important to be familiar with all label directions and the Directions for use of PAPP and 1080.
Wild dog trapping is labour intensive and requires a higher skill level to successfully trap highly intelligent wild dogs. The use of traps must comply with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA) and its regulations. Trapping has several animal welfare implications and anyone considering trapping should read Humane Vertebrate Pest Control.
Trapping can form an important part of an integrated control program especially when used in combination with other control measures.
While shooting is the most target specific form of wild dog control, hunting does not provide long term, broad scale wild dog control due to the difficulty of undertaking it at a large scale in an ongoing manner. Shooting is labour intensive and requires a high skill level. Shooting has a role removing a 'problem' dog from an area and in supporting other control techniques in an integrated management approach.
The use of firearms to control wild dog must conform to relevant firearm legislation and be integrated with other control methods.
Many farmers believe that electric exclusion fencing, if well built and well maintained, provides an effective 'first line of defence' against wild dog predation of livestock.
Livestock protection can be further enhanced if electric exclusion fencing is backed up by lethal control methods such as trapping, poisoning and shooting. An even higher level of protection can be achieved if adjoining landholders work together to build and maintain contiguous community electric exclusion fences.
Carcasses of stock, pest animals, deer and native animals should be buried or burnt to prevent wild dogs feeding on them. The presence of carcasses may attract wild dogs onto your property and provide a plentiful food source allowing wild dog populations to increase and remain in your area.
Small lambing paddocks should be used to allow easier monitoring of the flock and reduce the chances of young lambs or kids being left unattended a long way from their mothers. Lambing paddocks sited close to the house are also easier to check frequently.
Shed lambing can be a practical means of preventing wild dog predation on small flocks of valuable animals. Primary producers can reduce the impacts of wild dog on lambing by coordinating lambing times with their neighbours ensuring that vulnerable lambs are exposed for the shortest possible time frame within a given area.
Some producers have successfully used trained guard dogs (Anatolian shepherds, Maremma sheep dogs) to protect their flocks from wild dog predation.