Crowd funding the solution for wild dog fence project ‘down to the wire’

“Just because this is the worst drought in living memory, we can’t forget about dogs,” Bruce McLeish.

With the burden of drought weighing heavily across Australia, it’s inspiring to hear stories of rural communities rallying together to achieve results.

Earlier this year, southern Queensland producer Bruce McLeish, and fellow members of the Karara Gore Wild Dog Management Group, turned to crowd funding to solve a shortfall of materials to complete their exclusion fencing project.

“Several neighbours built an exclusion fence that ran across the back of our properties to the Cunningham Highway with the intention of joining up to the rabbit fence,” Bruce said.

“Unfortunately, we fell short of completing the project through State forest by 2.2km and about $3000 in materials.”

Bruce said the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries provided some funding, materials (netting and steel posts) earthworks and removed the old fence through the State forest, however, extra resources were still needed to complete an effective dog-proof fence.

With no other avenues, the producers turned to the community for help.

Bruce sent out an SOS via SMS to a group of 140 producers he regularly communicates wild dog information to and was stunned by the response.

“I asked for 10 steel posts or a $100 donation and I was blown away. Even people from outside the community donated which is an amazing effort given so many people and businesses are struggling with drought,” he said.

Their plea was sufficiently over-subscribed that they managed to not only buy the remaining materials for the State forest section but also put $500 from the Traprock Wild Dog Management Group towards a spur fence to stop wild dogs ducking around their exclusion fence where it intersects the Cunningham Highway.

Bruce said the exercise not only bolstered producers’ morale but also served as a timely reminder not to become complacent about wild dogs.

“It has helped keep community awareness high – just because it’s the worst drought in living memory, we can’t forget about dogs,” he said.

“I know dog activity has eased off due to the drought, they’re sticking close to water and not moving around as much, and a lot of properties have destocked.

“Even so, we’re still trapping one dog within a 25km radius from home every fortnight and in more normal seasons we expect to trap about 200 a year.

“We can’t afford to become complacent, they’re still here.”

National Wild Dog Management Coordinator Greg Mifsud said it was rewarding to see the values and principles of the National Wild Dog Action Plan, which guides best practice wild dog management, applied on-ground and benefiting landholders.

“Community-ownership of the problem and provision of solutions based on a nil-tenure (no borders) approach, as promoted by the Plan, has delivered landholders more protection and peace of mind, particularly during this very challenging time,” Greg said.

“The Plan continues to support and improve wild dog management Australia-wide through capacity building, educating the community about ethical control strategies and helping to maintain government and community support.”

Featured image taken by Mark Phelps, Queensland Country Life.