Wild dogs wipe out farmer's sheep flock
IAN Mulligan was a sheep farmer up until a few months ago. He'd still be one if not for the packs of feral dogs roaming the Northern Rivers.
Speaking at the Casino Farmers Market yesterday, where he has a stall, Mr Mulligan said when his old sheep dog died a few months ago a big pack of feral dogs moved in for the kill.
“In two nights they killed 48 sheep,” he said.
“They were supposed to be in a sheep-proof paddock but they came in a couple of nights later.”
By the time Mr Mulligan had found a replacement for his old sheep dog it was too late, the flock had been wiped out – some for food, most for sport.
He now had new sheepdogs, but there was no guarantee they were as good as the one that died.
However, with replacement sheep costing about $100 a head he was in no rush to get a new flock.
Mr Mulligan is the latest in a long run of Northern Rivers residents reporting problems with feral dogs and questioning the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities' policy of using only baits to bring them under control.
Rangers have previously warned trying to shoot the dogs would be ineffective.
Mr Mulligan said he was too close to neighbours for baiting to be allowed on his property, leaving his only option to shoot the dogs when he can.
Sometimes they are obliging. Before they finished killing off his sheep, some dogs were wandering within 20 metres of the family home – close enough that Mr Mulligan once managed to shoot one from his veranda.
Mr Mulligan said there had always been dogs on the Northern Rivers, but the population has boomed over the past 15 years – just as the human population had soared.
Mr Mulligan said controlling the feral dog population required a mix of baiting, trapping and shooting by professional wild dog hunters.