Last week’s wild dog attack on a mother walking her baby in a pram in the Hughenden region has prompted Mount Isa MP Rob Katter to question the amount of money spent by the government on controlling wild dogs, particularly in national parks.
An American bulldog pet was the saviour in the terrifying incident in which Katie Casey, along with her 10-month-old daughter and miniature Foxie, were confronted by a pack of wild dogs while out on an afternoon walk on a property an hour from Hughenden.
Mr Katter said it made for frightening reading and emphasised the need for ongoing funding, both for trapping and baiting programs.
“The Flinders shire lost two trappers at the end of June when the grant program to fund their work ended,” he said. “This needs to be both reinstated and expanded dramatically across outback Queensland if we ever hope to get on top of the problem.”
In calling for a multi-faceted approach to a “growing and serious problem”, Mr Katter said getting rid of wild dogs at their source was important, pointing to national parks as a breeding ground.
He said a revelation by Environment Minister Steven Miles during recent budget estimates hearings that $60,000 had been spent on baiting in national parks last financial year was “pretty disgraceful”.
“Some individual graziers are putting that much and more into baiting,” he said.
According to a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service spokeswoman, $64,000 was allocated to strategic management projects targeting wild dogs and feral cats where they were known to be impacting on national parks or neighbouring lands.
The plan included $12,000 to manage wild dog populations on Cooloola, Girraween, Southwood, Bladensburg, Idalia and Welford national parks and Durikai and Nudely state forests.
Without specifying an amount, the spokeswoman said 1080 baiting programs were also conducted across 62 separate protected areas across the state, 22 of them specifically targeted wild dogs.
“In most cases these were conducted in collaboration with local wild dog baiting syndicates and/or local government baiting operations.”
The Flinders shire paid out bounties on 373 wild dogs last financial year with another 161 problem dogs caught by trappers, and conducted two major baiting programs.
National parks wild dog management
The QPWS spokeswoman said its wild dog management policy was developed in consultation with Biosecurity Queensland and Agforce and aligns with the Queensland Wild Dog Management Strategy, “which recognises the role dingoes play in natural ecosystems”.
“Under this policy, QPWS actively collaborates with neighbours and wild dog syndicates to minimise the impacts of wild dogs on neighbouring lands,” she said.
“QPWS is a member of the Queensland Dog Offensive Group, whose membership includes the livestock industry, regional communities and state government agencies.
“QPWS also has established a long-term partnership arrangement with the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia to control feral animals in various protected areas.
“The partnership arrangement consists of 15 projects in 26 protected areas, targeting wild dogs, pigs and deer. Wild dogs are the primary target species in five of these projects in 10 separate protected areas.”
According to the spokewoman, $52,000 was spent in the last financial year to support activities under a statewide strategic project to reduce the impacts of feral cat management on Taunton, Diamantina, Rinyirru, Kroombit Tops, Currawinya and Moreton Island national parks.
A total of $135,000 from the Strategic Pest Management Program was also allocated to control feral pigs in Currawinya, Kroombit Tops, Bunya Mountains, Oyala Thumotang, Moreton Island, Staaten River and Bowling Green Bay national parks.
The spokeswoman said QPWS has budgeted equivalent levels of funding in 2017-2018 to continue to address the threats of a range of feral pests.