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Council

Power in numbers project builds future in wool industry

12 June 2019

Large tracts of country across the Southern Downs are highly suited to sheep and goat grazing, yet the region’s primary producers are cautious not to stock paddocks with these animals. Years of experience on the land means they are all too aware wild dogs will decimate their sheep, until they can no longer stay in the industry. It’s a situation Southern Downs Regional Council is working hard to change.

Chair of the Southern Downs Region Wild Dog Management Group (SDRWDM) and local landowner, Clive Smith said wild dogs have been a problem for the region’s producers for a long time.

“I’ve done the lot on my land—baiting, trapping, and shooting—and dogs will still find a way onto your property, because those things alone are not enough,” he said.

Cluster fencing is one way producers can help control wild dogs on their land and Council’s Pest Management team is proudly working with the local sheep and wool industry to fence properties to protect the region’s industry.

A power in numbers approach to staving off wild dogs, cluster fencing involves a number of adjoining landowners forming a partnership to erect fencing around the outer boundary of a group of properties.

“I put up some exclusion fencing around parts of my property and noticed a difference in the amount of wild dogs coming onto my land. Even fencing part of your property will disturb their patterns,” Mr Smith said.

“Most landholders running sheep want to put up exclusion fencing but it costs too much for them, and that’s why we need to work with our neighbours to put up cluster fencing.”

Erecting exclusion fencing as collective means landowners can reduce the amount of fencing needed to protect their stock from the impacts of wild dogs, but it can come at a cost.

That’s why Council has worked with landholders for the past 18 months to source funding, plan potential clusters and develop funding applications for the State and Federal Governments.

Recent efforts have paid off, leading to Council securing $1.7 million in funding from the Queensland Government’s Queensland Feral Pest Initiative.

The funding will enable landholders in the Southern Downs to erect nearly 200 kilometres of cluster fencing and help secure their future in the sheep and wool industry.

SDRC Senior Local Laws Officer (Pest Management) Craig Magnussen said not only will cluster fencing protect the sheep and wool industry in the region into the future; it will provide economic benefits to the whole region.

“A thriving sheep and wool industry will increase employment for the region, as more sheep equals more labour in shearing and animal husbandry activities,” Mr Magnussen said.

“More employment opportunities in the industry will bring more people into the Southern Downs and boost the local economy.”

Despite the recent success, Council and their industry partners will continue working to secure funding for more cluster fencing and other control methods—like baiting and trapping—in the region.

Displaying the community spirit that characterises the Southern Downs, Mr Smith said landholders need to work together to tackle this problem for everyone in the region’s sheep and wool industry.

“It’s not just about looking at your own property, it’s a matter of looking at your neighbour’s property as well, and thinking if we both put up a bit more fencing in this spot, it would really help us both out,” Mr Smith said.

For more information on cluster fencing, contact SDRC’s Pest Management Team on 1300 697 372 or ipcs@sdrc.qld.gov.au.

To learn more about the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Queensland Feral Pest Initiative, visit their website.

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