Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Remote sensing trial key to targeted wild dog management

[July-August 2016]

Remote sensing has been used to develop maps of breakaway formations in the landscape commonly utilised by wild dogs across 78 pastoral properties in the Goldfields-Nullarbor region.

The maps will inform targeted aerial and ground baiting plans, enabling a consistent landscape-scale approach to the management of wild dogs.

The Goldfields-Nullarbor Regional Biosecurity Association (GNRBA) worked closely with environmental technology company Gaia Resources with support from Rangelands NRM through funding from the National Landcare Programme.

Rangelands NRM Program Manager (Southern Rangelands) Kieran Massie said wild dog predation causes extensive damage to the Western Australian agricultural industry as well as substantial damage to native fauna.

“Small stock production in the southern rangelands has been seriously threatened by wild dog predation, with even cattle producers suffering financial losses as a result of increasing wild dog populations,” Mr Massie said.

“Some estimates reach as high as $6 million annually in production losses.”

A combination of producer knowledge and remote sensing to ˜ground-truth´ the mapping assisted to optimise the results of the trial.

“The final result is a professional and comprehensive set of maps of breakaway formations in the local government authority areas of: Leonora; Laverton; Wiluna; Ngaanyatarraku; Menzies; Kalgoorlie-Boulder; Coolgardie; Dundas and Sandstone to inform a consistent regional-scale approach to feral animal control,” said Mr Massie.

Mr Massie said the project is likely to have significant implications in the broader Goldfields-Nullarbor region by providing pastoralists with the tools to develop a targeted regional response to the rise in wild dog numbers and reduce stock predation.

“With 78 properties mapped in the Goldfields-Nullarbor region, the potential for a significant number of people to benefit from the trial is clear,” he said.

“Other Regional Biosecurity Groups have already expressed interest in the trial, noting relevance to their own management areas.”

The GNRBA will continue to promote the availability of the maps, to ensure they are utilised as much as possible.

Image: Breakaway formations in the landscape provide cover and elevation for wild dogs (K.Massie)