Lifestyle

Wild dogs attack school's alpacas, killing one

GENTLY DOES IT: Veterinarian John Campbell and final year veterinary student Alannah Jupe caring for one of the injured alpacas at Woodlawn College yesterday.
GENTLY DOES IT: Veterinarian John Campbell and final year veterinary student Alannah Jupe caring for one of the injured alpacas at Woodlawn College yesterday. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

A PACK of wild dogs have killed one of St John's College Woodlawn's alpacas and seriously injured two more following a vicious attack on Sunday night.

Agricultural teacher Mick Melino has had to learn the hard way that alpacas, despite their reputation as being excellent herd protectors, are still susceptibly to wild dog attacks.

"We've always thought that alpacas can defend themselves, but obviously that's not true," he said.

In the past year the school has had two separate wild dog attacks, one on goats and one on sheep, not including the most recent alpaca attack.

With the exception of the last year, Mr Melino said he has never, in his 20 years as an agricultural teacher, experienced wild dog attacks.

"The alpacas have been here for over 10 years and I'd always thought that the reason I had no dog attacks was because of the alpacas."

GENTLY DOES IT: Veterinarian John Campbell and final year veterinary student Alannah Jupe caring for one of the injured alpacas at Woodlawn College yesterday.
GENTLY DOES IT: Veterinarian John Campbell and final year veterinary student Alannah Jupe caring for one of the injured alpacas at Woodlawn College yesterday. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Veterinarian John Campbell, who treated the two surviving alpacas yesterday, said it was the first case of wild dogs attacking alpacas he had seen.

"The ironic thing about this is these guys are regularly purchased to prevent dog attacks," he said.

Mr Campbell said they were treating two wild dog attacks a week on both household pets and livestock.

"You've always had the odd one but there's been a spike in the last six months."

He said the more seriously injured alpaca had a 50/50 chance of survival.

Senior biosecurity officer for North Coast Local Land Services Neil Hing said the popular belief that alpacas could be used to guard herds against wild dogs was "a bit of a myth".

"In my experience, the number of alpacas that have been killed by wild dogs because they're trying to protect other animals… it happens all the time," he said.

"Any small livestock like sheep, goats, alpacas, poultry… they're an attractant for wild dogs."

Mr Hing said while the overall number of wild dogs may not have increased, there was a general spike in attacks this time of year as young dogs born last season gain maturity.

Anyone who has seen a wild dog or had an attack on their pets or livestock should contact Mr Hing on 0402 000 762.

Topics:  attack, editors picks, school, wild dogs



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