A FAR North grazing family who have lost 20 calves this winter to wild dog attacks are leading the charge to rid the region of the menaces.
Ashleigh Hatfield and partner Neil Bartlett moved to their 385 hectare property, bordering national park land at East Palmerston two years ago and said wild dogs were a massive problem.
“Before we moved from Cape York we sent cattle here to fatten, now we live here with our breeders and are constantly losing calves,” Ashleigh said.
“Anyone who is running breeders here is experiencing the same problem, some are even having to leave farming because the loss of calves is too great - you invest all this time into the cattle, then you have the dog packs come in at night to tear them apart.
“You can’t sell them to live export, and meatworks will deduct it if it’s a bite on the rump or other, we lose financially if there’s a missing tail or torn ear.
“The personal loss is also awful. The calves that are maimed and not killed, we’ve had to put them down. We’ve got four girls, this is a family business, for them to see the cows they’ve been looking after dead or torn apart is terrible.”
Ashleigh has formed a committee to pull together different agencies and landholders in the area to come up with a plan.
The group met last week for the first time to discuss control methods.
“We all discussed different methods of control, not just baiting or shooting. Trying to find out what is the most effective – not every dog will eat bait, but we may get them in a trap,” Ashleigh said.
Hill MP Shane Knuth said wild dogs were wreaking havoc on farms and said it was costing Queensland more than $22 million a year.
“The wild dogs roam in packs and are not necessarily eating their prey,” Mr Knuth said.
“They are not only killing calves, but also maiming, biting and tearing ears off weaners, birthing cows and other cattle - they are also threatening cassowary chicks and other native animals in adjacent national parks.”
Mr Knuth said he was keen to work with the community and seek government support to help reduce the devastation to the environment and farms.