ON THE PROWL: Wild dogs are becoming a larger problem for sheep graziers on the Southern Downs, who warn campgrounds could become targets.
ON THE PROWL: Wild dogs are becoming a larger problem for sheep graziers on the Southern Downs, who warn campgrounds could become targets.

Fears for ‘thick’ packs of wild dogs on farms, campgrounds

HUNDREDS of landholders have had their say on the Southern Downs Regional Council Pest Management Scheme, but some fear the delay in local enforcement will only make the pest problem worse.

As the newly-elected councillors wait on community feedback, the controversial scheme is on hold, allowing several swathes of land to remain unchecked.

Sheep grazier Bruce McLeish said the wild dogs were already so thick in some areas it was no longer viable to run a small animal enterprise.

"The reason the wild dogs have gotten to where they are, over a period of time, was the lack of local laws being enforced for people to control pests on their own property," Mr McLeish said.

"A lot of wild dogs bred on the east of the (Southern Downs) back to the ranges, where people who didn't derive income off the land weren't forced to control them.

"The introduction of the pest control scheme was that way of making landholders accountable, it helped the whole community."

The scheme came under fire from some residents for financially and psychologically punishing farmers who were struggling to maintain their land during the harsh drought.

A petition, with over 170 signatories, called for the state parliament to overturn the scheme in 2018, urging for a more reward-based system.

While Mr McLeish understood the sentiment, he expressed concern that if left unregulated, the wild animal population could quickly become out of control.

"We don't want animals like wild dogs or pigs or foxes going into people's backyards and houses, making it unsafe for children to play in parks or for families to go camping," he said.

"We've already seen that happen on Fraser Island and the north coast."

Brad Badbury has run the Goomburra Valley Campground for the last 18 months, and said while the paperwork involved in the scheme could be annoying, it helped in keeping wild dogs off his large property.

"It's just monitoring for us at this point because no one has seen any wild dogs up in this area since we've been here," Mr Bradbury said.

"I think it must be working."

A recurring complaint appears to be the lack of consistency in enforcement, as landholders often question how council land is managed and offending properties are brought back into line.

Mr Bradbury expressed frustration that his efforts to contain invasive pests on his property could be for naught, if surrounding landowners failed to take similar action.

"We're downstream of the national park and I can walk up there and see every bit of weed we're supposed to manage here, that isn't managed there," he said.

"And then there are a lot of properties that have a lot of pests on them, and I don't understand how the council hasn't done anything about it."

The questionnaire is available online for all interested parties and stakeholders to complete here.