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Wild dog management in Australia has historically been understood and studied from the scientific and technical perspective. This involved a focus on the science of best management, and the implementation of scientific and technical control techniques.
A growing understanding of wild dog behaviour and movement through the landscape has shown that these control techniques are most effective when landholders work together across property boundaries. Best practice wild dog management now recommends coordinated community action as a key strategy for reducing dog numbers.
Achieving coordinated community action can be a challenge. There are many reasons why landholders may not be willing or able to join in a collective effort. Historical patterns of community conflict or entrenched behaviours can be difficult to overcome. Control can be expensive, or inconvenient, and may require individuals to put the interests of the wider community ahead of their own.
The history of government action or industry efforts in a region can confuse the issue, as landholders may be unsure who holds the legal responsibility to control wild dogs. In situations where old patterns of dependence on government control are changing, landholders may be reluctant to take ownership of the problem, and this can cause resentment on both sides.
Wild dog management is an emotional topic. Landholders who experience wild dog impacts feel attacked, vulnerable and anxious about the security of their livelihood. When dog impacts are heavy, there is an atmosphere of crisis and landholders are strongly motivated to take action. This motivation can be hard to maintain over time, particularly as dog impacts reduce.
Understanding these challenges can help landholders, industry and government stakeholders in their efforts to achieve long-lasting coordinated action. Moving beyond individual attitudes and perceptions of the pest, it is useful to understand how collective action has been implemented in real life examples.
This report documents a research project that examined three different forms of collective community action in three different geographical settings. Three in depth case studies were developed using narrative techniques of data collection and analysis. The case studies outlined the journey from wild dog impacts to community action in each setting. Useful information about community engagement and coordination was revealed.
This research was designed in a process of collaboration, knowledge sharing and support between IACRC Program 4 and the National Wild Dog Facilitator. The report provides findings that might support implementation of best practice wild dog management as described in the National Wild Dog Action Plan. It will also be of interest to practitioners or scholars concerned with community action, community governance, and complex issues of natural resource management.