Dingo found as culprit to WA sheep decline

Feb 17, 2014 by Rob Payne
The findings reveal that dingo populations are present and increasing in all Australian sheep production zones. Credit: sunphlo

New research suggests that unless drastic action is taken to control dingo incursions, rangeland production of wool and sheep meat in Western Australia will disappear within 30 to 40 years.

Published in the Australian Veterinary Journal, the findings reveal that populations are present and increasing in all Australian sheep production zones, including south-west of WA and areas once declared 'dingo free'.

"The pattern of sheep decline, evident for over 100 years outside exclusion zones, is presently occurring in exclusion zones, with all states experiencing flock size reductions of 40 per cent or more," co author Dr Benjamin Allen says.

"This is primarily due to the diminished use of fences and fences having fallen into disrepair, which has resulted in dingoes reinvading areas where control has occurred or where they had previously been exterminated."

Dr Allen drew on landholder surveys undertaken by the WA State Government as well as a recent dingo genetics study by Dr Danielle Stephens, done through UWA, which used microsatellite DNA markers to produce the first study of population genetics in Australian wild dogs, including dingoes (Canis lupus dingo), feral domestic dogs (C. l. familiaris) and their hybrids.

Dr Stephens' study found samples from outside and inside barrier fences in WA.

Mr Ross Wood of the Kalgoorlie Pastoral Alliance (KPA) says the Goldfields are a prime example of dingoes' ongoing impact.

"People think you can get away with one or two dogs in a protected area, but you can't run sheep with any predators. If ewes detect predators in the area, they'll walk away from their young," he says.

"High lambing rates are needed to make production economically feasible, so any incursion is a disaster. The Kalgoorlie Pastoral region supported 300,000 sheep up until the 1990s. Now we have less than 2000, and that's mainly due to dingoes.

"If that situation is occurring in other parts of the country, the outcome is clear."

Mr Wood says current control measures such as trapping, baiting and bounties are not effective, because trying to control dogs without preventing reinvasion will never succeed.

As an alternative, KPA has done a full cost-benefit analysis to support the building of a 950km-long biosecurity fence to facilitate long-term removal of the wild , goats and other feral animals from the Kalgoorlie Pastoral region.

"There are clear economic, social and environmental benefits to supporting the industry in WA, so we hope people get on board," Mr Woods says.

Explore further: Fears for dingoes as Australia's wild dog faces extinction

More information: Allen, B. and West, P. (2013), "Influence of dingoes on sheep distribution in Australia." Australian Veterinary Journal, 91: 261–267. doi: 10.1111/avj.12075

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dingo wrongly blamed for extinctions

Sep 09, 2013

Dingoes have been unjustly blamed for the extinctions on the Australian mainland of the Tasmanian tiger (or thylacine) and the Tasmanian devil, a University of Adelaide study has found.

Dingoes, like wolves, are smarter than pet dogs

Jun 11, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Studies in the past have shown that wolves are smarter than domesticated dogs when it comes to solving spatial problems, and now new research has shown that dingoes also solve the problems ...

Recommended for you

Dogs hear our words and how we say them

Nov 26, 2014

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said—those consonants and vowels strung together into words and sentences—but also to other features of that speech—the ...

Amazonian shrimps: An underwater world still unknown

Nov 26, 2014

A study reveals how little we know about the Amazonian diversity. Aiming to resolve a scientific debate about the validity of two species of freshwater shrimp described in the first half of the last century, ...

Factors that drive sexual traits

Nov 26, 2014

Many male animals have multiple displays and behaviours to attract females; and often the larger or greater the better.

User comments : 6

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sinister1812
not rated yet Feb 17, 2014
I hope they don't wipe out these animals, as they play an important role. Some farmers are turning to trained feral donkeys to protect their flocks from wild dogs (and with success!).
OZGuy
1 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2014
ome farmers are turning to trained feral donkeys to protect their flocks from wild dogs (and with success!).


hahahaha - might work on a dinky little flock on a dinky little farm but here it has no chance.
Do you actually know how BIG Australia is and how large the sheep stations actually are?

BTW the way we have a couple of feral donkeys here too, we call them pet food. Feel free to come over and train a few and show us how it's done.

http://www.parksa...c/donkey
Sinister1812
1 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2014
ome farmers are turning to trained feral donkeys to protect their flocks from wild dogs (and with success!).


hahahaha - might work on a dinky little flock on a dinky little farm but here it has no chance.
Do you actually know how BIG Australia is and how large the sheep stations actually are?

BTW the way we have a couple of feral donkeys here too, we call them pet food. Feel free to come over and train a few and show us how it's done.

http://www.parksa...c/donkey


I know how big Australia is. And the idea is already being used in Queensland. And you're sure that wild dogs eat donkeys?

Found these on Google.
http://www.border...ictures/
http://www.daff.q...Dogs.pdf
http://www.thelan...087.aspx
yep
5 / 5 (1) Feb 18, 2014
http://phys.org/n...tml#nRlv

Interesting article a couple months ago on their possible extinction as a pure Dingos.

Lex Talonis
1 / 5 (3) Feb 18, 2014
Hmmmmm tsk, tsk......

All farmers in Australia are gay and they all ride donkeys.

As for the dingos - the feral dogs, and the feral dogs breeding with the dingos are a game changer.

Pretty soon we will have the development of the Australia desert wolf.......
OZGuy
1 / 5 (1) Feb 22, 2014
And you're sure that wild dogs eat donkeys?

Wild dogs eat anything and everything. Pigs are worse plus they destroy dams.

Mate no insult intended BUT you appear to have have ZERO insight on pastoral life in Australia beyond Google. I have worked in the wool industry for years. I got into physorg for the archaeology articles once we had Internet as I helped dig a few west of Winton.

I currently work as a Jackeroo on a property west of Tambo, usually I'm around Winton but given the drought drifting South. ( All sheep country)

BTW I have a degree in Ag Science as well as a BinfTech and working on a MBA... We may be country but we aren't stooopid!

Why a Jackeroo, you might ask...a LIFE that Google won't give you, plus my back doesn't handle shearing the way it did!

Seriously donkeys aren't an option... might as well get a Kardasian it'd be a smaller ass and cheaper to feed!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.