THE need for a dog-proof fence to demarcate a zero-tolerance line in the Blackall-Tambo and Barcaldine council regions has never been more urgent, says wool producer Jenny Keogh.
The chairwoman of Leading Sheep's project advisory panel, Ms Keogh plans to approach both councils and the Longreach Regional Council with a proposal to undertake a collaborative strategy to erect dog-proof check fencing.
Her initial approach will be for impact and cost-benefit analysis studies to be undertaken, and she will be asking Leading Sheep and other industry organisations for funds to put towards facilitating this.
"If we don't do something outside the existing barrier fence right now, sheep will be gone from that area totally within 10 years," she said.
"I'd like to think our leaders can get above the blame game and think about what's at stake.
"They could have more lambs and therefore more income for existing producers, more jobs in their towns, increased land values giving more certainty for investors, and more grazing options and diversity, or they could be happy to lose their current investors and see their communities become monocultures, reliant on one industry only."
Ms Keogh said she was focusing her energy on country outside the barrier fence, as she couldn't see any strategy to encourage long-term investment for that area.
"My key concern is to build diversity, and therefore resilience in the face of industry downturns," Ms Keogh said.
"We need more than short-term bandaid measures if people are going to have some measure of certainty that wild dogs aren't going to impact on their business."
She said leaving people to put up fences themselves was a gross waste of money, estimating that individual sheep producers were paying upwards of a quarter of a million dollars per business to protect 2500 lambing ewes and their progeny.
"If everyone has to spend that, or more, it will destroy the industry."
Relying on a 1080 barrier was not working for people in her target area sandwiched between Carnarvon and Grey Ranges, from where it is impossible to eliminate dogs.
While Ms Keogh didn't want to define a line on which to construct a fence, she said it would have to involve people who wanted a zero-tolerance approach to wild dogs.
"There's no point in going too far into areas where cattlemen have some tolerance to dogs on their place," she said.
Under her plan, graziers, the councils involved, and state and federal governments would each pay a third of the price of constructing a new fence at an indicative cost of $6.5 million all up.
Benefiting landholders would join a scheme such as those implemented in the 1970s for rural electrification, which was paid off over time.
"It might add $500 to your rates, but it might also add $20 to each hectare you own, or allow you to run a few extra sheep to pay for it," Ms Keogh said.
"Cattlemen could run extra sheep at times, too."
In conjunction with this would be agreement by shires to use enforcement legislation powers.
Ms Keogh received a mixed response when she took her proposal to QDOG last November.
"I was told by one that it wouldn't kill dogs, but my response is that it will change their behaviour patterns and give us a demarcation line to work off, on both sides," Ms Keogh said.
"They also recommended that I approach the shires involved and that's my next step.
"I'd like them to sit down together and work out a plan and how to implement it."
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