WIRES carer and cattle farmer Katy Stewart, of The Pocket, is concerned that native wildlife populations are being decimated by packs of feral dogs freely roaming the area.
WIRES carer and cattle farmer Katy Stewart, of The Pocket, is concerned that native wildlife populations are being decimated by packs of feral dogs freely roaming the area. Jay Cronan

Don't shoot feral dogs, bait them

ANY attempt to wipe out feral dog packs plaguing parts of the Northern Rivers by shooting would be doomed to failure, a senior ranger has warned.

Dean Chamberlain, senior ranger with the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities, formerly the Rural Lands Protection Board, responded to pleas for help from residents around The Pocket by saying baiting is the first and best solution for controlling feral dog populations.

“Shooting the dogs sounds good in theory, but this is an animal that will pick you up long before you ever pick it up,” Mr Chamberlain said.

“And unless you are a really good shot, you will miss more times than you hit. You will only pick up a few dogs rather than a pack or big numbers.”

Mr Chamberlain said controlling feral dogs was technically the responsibility ofindividual landholders, but agreed that could be problematic when the dogs were moving between private and public land over a big area.

He said local rangers had received few complaints of wild dogs at The Pocket over the past 12 months and said it was important residents register complaints about the dogs with the authority.

Several residents spoken to by The Northern Star have reported hearing feral dogs howling around The Pocket this week. Billinudgel vet nurse Anthea Kendricks, who lives at Crabbes Creek, said she heard the dogs on Tuesday night.

Ms Kendricks said she had seen a drop in the number of animals – dogs, livestock and native animals – brought into the surgery in recent months. However, that could also indicate owners had become more careful about protecting their animals and could mean there were now fewer native animals for the dogs to kill.

A farmer from The Pocket said the bulk of the dogs were presently in the Yelgun area. The dogs are known to roam in an area stretching from Burringbar to Goonengerry. The Star has also heard of packs operating around Newrybar and Uki, although it is not known if they are part of the same group of about eight packs terrorising residents around The Pocket.

Mr Chamberlain said baiting programs using 1080 baits were the first line of defence against feral dog packs and rejected claims the dogs were too smart to take them.

“The observation that someone has seen one chase a dog off a bait mound doesn’t mean all dogs are bait shy. Most wouldn’t be,” he said.

“A lot of the dogs around there will be last year’s pups, less than 12 months old – not overly smart and likely to take a bait.”

The same went for traps. To the suggestion the dogs were too smart to walk into traps, Mr Chamberlain said laying dog traps was a difficult art that took training and practice.

“You can’t just dig a hole and put a trap in it,” he said.

“You have to set it up to get the dog to walk in a certain way. It’s an art form that needs to be taught and refined.”

Mr Chamberlain said the best way for residents around The Pocket to tackle their feral dog problem was to contact their local Livestock Health and Pest Authorities ranger, Neil Hing, who would help them work out a solution.



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