Felicity Abotomey and Andrew Walbaum with seven-year-old dog Sparky, who recovering from a feral dog attack at Rosebank recently.
Felicity Abotomey and Andrew Walbaum with seven-year-old dog Sparky, who recovering from a feral dog attack at Rosebank recently. Jacklyn Wagner

Feral dogs attack again

ANDREW WALBAUM never gave too much thought to feral dogs,until a pack of up to nine animals savaged one of his pet dogs while he was walking on his Rosebank macadamia farm a few weeks ago.

That attack left ‘at least’ 50 bite marks over Sparky, one of Mr Walbaum’s three dogs, and left he and his partner Felicity Adotomey facing a $1000 vet bill.

The attack is one of several reported during the past few weeks at Rosebank and comes as rangers from the Livestock Health and Pest Authority – formerly the Rural Lands Protection Board – step up baiting programs around the Mullumbimby area to tackle wild dog packs terrorising residents between Myocum and Burringbar.

Ranger Neil Hing said it was unlikely the dogs at Rosebank were the same ones found around Mullumbimby because it was in a different valley and because of the distances involved.

Mr Hing confirmed he had also received complaints about dog packs around Rosebank and had laid baits on properties in the area as recently as last week.

Mr Walbaum, who has since moved to Goonellabah after selling his Rosebank farm last year, said he had lived on the farm since 2003 and had never had a problem with wild dogs until the attack on March 28.

“I have seen dogs roaming around the place from time to time, but I didn’t know whose dogs they were,” he said.

Mr Walbaum said he had only seen the dogs alone, or sometimes in pairs, and assumed they were domestic animals just running around in the scrub for the day.

That changed about three weeks ago when he was taking his three dogs on one of their regular walks through the property.

One of the dogs, Sparky, got a bit ahead of the group and disappeared around a corner. Moments later, Mr Walbaum heard the dog yelping and screaming and his other two dogs raced off after it.

When he rounded the corner, yelling as he ran, Mr Walbaum said he saw the feral pack fleeing into the bush while Sparky was ‘ripped into pieces’.

“My dog had at least 50 bite marks, so there must have been a few of them (wild dogs),” he said.

Others in Rosebank have reported seeing a feral pack of ‘seven or eight’ dogs roaming the area. Since the attack on Mr Walbaum’s dog there have been reports of cattle and other pet dogs being attacked.

Mr Walbaum said he did not get a good look at the pack as it disappeared into the bush after the attack on Sparky, but estimated the size of the dogs at around that of a German shepherd.

Others at Rosebank have also reported seeing a German shepherd-like dog or dogs in the pack, while elsewhere in the region residents have reported seeing shepherd/dingo crosses leading packs.

Mr Hing said Rosebank, like everywhere else on the Northern Rivers, had ongoing issues with wild dogs and the problem was likely flaring now because it was breeding season and the dogs were ‘on the move’.

Meanwhile, rangers and residents met at Mullumbimby last week to nut out a solution to the dog problem around there.

The solution that they settled on was a co-ordinated baiting program across the dogs’ entire roaming area, estimated at 20 square kilometres.

“The group programs will mean that the coverage of baits on multiple properties will give the wild dogs the best opportunity to find a wild dog bait,” Livestock Health and Pest Authority North Coast general manager Brian McInnes said.

“Even though some properties cannot be baited due to pesticide control order requirements, wild dogs inhabiting these areas arevery likely to find a bait on another property where baiting can occur.”


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