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Tool up to fight wild dogs

The outgoing chief executive of the Goldfields’ peak biosecurity group says the region’s pastoralists need to develop a diverse range of tools to keep the scourge of wild dogs from devastating its rich rangelands.

For the first time the Goldfields Nullarbor Rangelands Biosecurity Association will prepare for life without biosecurity expert Ross Wood at the helm, after he announced his decision to step down at the group’s annual general meeting in Kalgoorlie-Boulder yesterday.

He will pass the baton to GNRBA operations manager Michelle Donaldson at the end of the year.

Mr Wood, who is also the executive officer for the Kalgoorlie Pastoral Alliance, said the time had come to take a step back from the group he has steered for the past eight years.

“We’re just running through a process of succession now. I’ll be handing over to Michelle, who’s been in training for about a year,” he said.

“I’ll step back and just deal with finances … being a bit of a mentor.”

Mr Wood pointed to managing wild dogs as one of the region’s biggest concerns as more than 40 pastoralists from Sandstone to the Nullarbor gathered at Mt Vetters Station, 25km north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, for a trap-setting demonstration yesterday.

He said there was not enough funding to employ the number of doggers required to patrol the vast Goldfields district, meaning station owners had to learn how to fight back themselves.

“Baits may be coming under a bit of scrutiny, but we need to have more tools in our toolbox,” he said.

“We can’t afford to put doggers everywhere so we need to train people to be doggers. If we can get people setting a few traps and start helping themselves, then we’ll get a bit more activity happening.”

Wild dogs have been blamed for the decimation of the region’s once 300,000-strong sheep flock, but Mt Vetters Station owner Justin Stevens said fighting the issue was also important for the region’s burgeoning cattle trade.

“With cattle you can have some, but the numbers have got to be kept under control because we can see damage in the yards at mustering time from dogs,” he said.

“There’s no question about that and it’s not just the damage they do, I have a firm belief that the dogs have an impact on the behaviour of the cattle as far as when it comes to mating and mothering of calves and getting to water points.”

The GNRBA AGM and field day continues today.

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