PASTORALISTS are biting back over WAâs wild dog problem, determined to outsmart â and surround â the âMexican waveâ of killer canines threatening their livelihood.
Murchison locals are making the most of WA Government funding to build impenetrable cells that can both protect their dwindling sheep herds and give cornered dogs no chance to escape.
And with another $4million in WA Wild Dog Action Plan funding heading bush, WA pastoralists are becoming more optimistic about winning a war that has decimated their livestock operations.
The idea is to start small â if there is such a concept in the vast WA rangelands â and expand the âsafeâ cells after they are cleared of wild dogs.
The Murchison Hub Cell fence, which sits within the boundaries of the far more ambitious Murchison Regional Vermin fence, will, when complete, also allow station country to âbreath and recoverâ, according to Edah stationâs Angus Nichols.
With about 180km of fencing to be done, the Hub Cell will eventually cover about 230,000ha across four pastoral leases; Murrum, Edah, Munbinia and Boogardie.
Mr Nichols, along with pastoralist brothers Henry and John Jones, and Yalgoo and Mt Magnet shire presidents Jo Kanny and Jorgen Jensen, briefed Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan on Tuesday. âThese areas have been constantly grazed â anything thatâs green gets eaten immediately, and nothing gets a chance to flower,â he said. âWe can isolate an area. We need to stop continuous grazing. We can then control the dogs, then the goats, the roos; we can get everything out of there.â
The Joneses have been connected with Boogardie since the 1880s and bought Murrum 12 years ago. Henry has seen a âMexican Waveâ of dogs come in from WAâs desert country when the Agricultural Protection Board closed a decade ago.
Henry, who grew up on Boogardie âwhen I wasnât somewhere elseâ, said back in the day there was a âsignificant bounty system, you could buy your strychnine at the corner shopâ.
âWe had about 10,000 sheep on average most years, but with the dogs, you just canât raise your lambs, and thatâs where they get you. We now run about 3000.â
Mt Magnet Shire president and third-generation pastoralist Jorgen Jensen said that while the country was not suited to cattle, pastoralists were âtrying to do it on a smaller scale.â
âAs far as the changing dynamic, there are only three stations in the Magnet Shire that still have sheep, but they are only in very small numbers, and very few goats left, all for the same reason,â he said.
âThe fence is only the first step â thereâs two fights to be had here â youâve got to get the fence up, then have enough money on the ground to pay doggers to clean up the dogs inside the fence.â
This week there were signs of improvement.
As the ministerial convoy drove along a completed section of the Hub fence, some unexpected but very welcome visitors appeared next to the gleaming wire fence; a bush turkey and its chick.
âWe havenât seen those for a fair while,â Mr Nichols said.
âUsually the dogs have made sure of that.â