Push for wild dog barrier

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian

Shire councils and pastoralists in the southern rangelands are banding together to support a radical plan to trap wild dogs in a net covering almost 90,000sqkm.

The plan involves a fence 1400km long to enclose 51 pastoral properties under attack from wild dogs, which have already caused devastation and widespread de-stocking.

More than 900km of the fence is already in place.

The Shire of Mount Magnet on behalf of the shires of Sandstone, Yalgoo and Cue has lodged an application to the Country Local Government Fund for about $1 million to erect another 100km and applied for funding from the Mid West Development Commission to build an additional 380km.

The fencing projects would create the Murchison Region Vermin Cell, joining the No. 2 Vermin Fence with the State Barrier Fence to enclose an area where wild dogs could be eradicated.

Mount Magnet shire president Ashley Dowden said the cell was vital to the future of pastoralists in the region.

Mr Dowden, of Chella Station, where pastoralists turned out this month to help with an intensive baiting program, said wild dogs numbers had exploded.

A survey of pastoralists in the region showed sheep numbers were falling at a rate of 14.5 per cent a year as a direct result of the impact of wild dogs.

It was estimated that if no action was taken to back up pastoralists in their fight to protect stock, fewer than 50,000 would remain on the 51 pastoral leases by 2018 - just 10 per cent of the current capacity of 450,000.

Mr Dowden said based on the forecasts few leases would be viable.

The cost of completing the cell is estimated at $5.8 million.

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