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Dogs driving Coorow wild

Zach RelphCountryman
Coorow sheep farmer Charles Wass is making a stance to protect his flock from wild dogs.
Camera IconCoorow sheep farmer Charles Wass is making a stance to protect his flock from wild dogs. Credit: Zach Relph

Mid West sheep producer Charles Wass “unfortunately” knows the wrath of wild dogs well.

In 2014, the Wass family were forced off their Perenjori farm as a wild dog influx savaged their flock, with Mr Wass relocating to Coorow and his father Harold opting for safety south at Boyup Brook.

While the canine pest has yet to venture to Boyup Brook, Mr Wass remains on high alert at his new Coorow property, with neighbours’ flocks falling victim to attacks.

“We lost all of our lambs from one year’s drop to wild dogs,” he said.

“It became unviable for us so we sold the Perenjori farm and relocated our sheep to Coorow.

“Now, wild dogs have moved into the Coorow area ... I’ve been lucky so far, but my neighbours have suffered losses.”

The fast-advancing wild dog influx, which has already ravaged WA’s pastoral area and forced stations to de-stock sheep, is on the fringe of the Mid West and Esperance agricultural areas.

In an effort to play a role in nullifying the pest spread, Mr Wass has taken on the chairman’s role at the Sheep and Goat Industry Funding Scheme management committee.

Last Wednesday, the State Government announced up to $2.25 million was available through the scheme to bolster wild dog control within dog-fenced areas.

Grants of up to $600,000 for control measures spanning three years — with a maximum of $200,000 annually — are available to applicants, starting next year.

The industry-funded program, authorised under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007, will be kept afloat by WA sheep and goat producers contributing 15¢ per sheep and goat sold.

Mr Wass said the scheme’s grants would ensure farmers and the industry remained proactive in mitigating the wild dog threat.

“We want to be on the front foot because the dogs do move so rapidly,” he said.

“These funds will help fill gaps in any other funding arrangements for wild dogs.”

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the scheme would also complement WA’s multiple cluster-cell fencing programs and upgrades to the State Barrier Fence to control the wild dog scourge.

“This industry-led grant program is a fantastic initiative that complements our investment in fencing, helping to ensure dogs inside the fenced zone are controlled and eradicated,” she said.

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