Develop a wild dog plan of action

Setting goals
Goals are general aims of the working plan, and need to be written  down. They are broad statements of what stakeholders want to  achieve from the plan. Examples include: ‘Minimise livestock predation by wild dogs’, ‘Maintain a population of dingoes in a  particular area’ or ‘Prevent spread of disease by wild dogs’.

For each goal identified by stakeholders, a means of measuring it  must also be determined. These measurements will allow the  progress of the management actions to be monitored and assessed.

Unlike objectives (see below), goals do not have specific time limits  attached to them. Monitoring goals is usually about numbers, such  as:

  • area covered by management activities
  • stakeholders participating
  • animal losses
  • bait used
  • people satisfied
  • dollars spent
  • time involved in management.

For goals related to livestock losses, lambing or calving percentages and numbers of animals that have been injured or killed might be the most appropriate measures. Similar measures can be recorded if a  goal is to minimise predation of a native animal. Regardless of the  animal type, it is important to try to collect this information from  places not participating in control programs too, in order to make  comparisons.

Setting measurable objectives
Objectives are more specific than goals and have a defined  timeframe. Objectives can be long or short term, and both should be  included in the plan. Setting objectives helps to refine the necessary  management actions. Having clear objectives also directs what  types of monitoring are needed to measure and evaluate progress.

If a stakeholder goal is to keep wild dogs out of a particular area, a  related short-term objective may be to erect a dog-proof fence  around that area by a certain date. An associated long-term objective might be to check the fence weekly for the next year. Another short-term objective to achieve the same goal could be to implement a trapping and baiting program to remove wild dogs  living within the area by the end of the month, with an associated  long-term objective of baiting within and around the area each season for the next year.

Importantly, each objective should relate to at least one goal, have a measurable number and a measureable timeframe. They must also  be achievable. The key issue here is finding the balance between  easy-to achieve objectives that will do little to reach the goal, and  objectives that would easily achieve the goal but are impossibly  difficult.

Remember, if records of actions are not kept, then progress towards  achieving objectives and goals can’t be assessed for success.

Develop a plan of action
This step turns stakeholders’ definition of the problem and their  ideas about measurable objectives and goals into a plan of action.  The aim of this process is to achieve agreement on actions, including  any reactive action that may be required.

The earlier steps  addressed why stakeholders are going to take action. Now is the  time to discuss and agree upon key issues of who, what, when and  where, with regard to undertaking specific actions. Stakeholders  must estimate how much time and money the actions are expected to cost.

Using agreed objectives as the guide, stakeholders should record the  details of their proposed actions in a table and draw them on a  map. Choosing the right person for the task is important for the  plan’s success, so it should be considered carefully. He/she will need  to agree to do it, and their family or their boss might also need to agree. A key principle here is to ask, not assume.

Consider the following questions as a guide for formulating an  action plan:

Tom and Danielle with sandplotWhat can be done?

  • strategic management — proactive actions to prevent problems occurring
  • reactive management — responding to problems that have occurred
  • a combination of both approaches

Where is management to be done?

  • public lands
  • private lands
  • lands with absentee owners

Who will organise the management?

  • state government staff
  • contractors
  • landholders and managers
  • wild dog management groups

When is management to be done?
Strategic (give timeframe, target dates or triggers)

  • strategically timed
  • regular
  • occasional
  • ongoing
  • once-off

Reactive (identify triggers)

  • immediately
  • later

What type of monitoring is to be done? (Identify who will keep records and how and when they will provide these to other  stakeholders)

  • livestock damage records
  • dog sighting records, dogs shot or trapped
  • DNA samples
  • time spent planning and conducting management
  • money and other resources used on control
  • animal abundance or activity records (native animals as well as pests)
  • number of baits laid and taken, or traps set

What actions are to be taken?

  • fencing
  • baiting — ground or aerial?
  • trapping
  • shooting — organised drives/ ambushes /howling
  • livestock guarding animals

What plans involving neighbouring groups does this plan link in with?

  • wild dog control groups
  • fox control groups
  • Landcare groups
  • other (regional or state plans, biodiversity/pest strategies)

Put the plan into action

During this stage the plan is implemented according to its  timeframe. It is important that the plan be monitored throughout,  using a variety of effective methods. These can include recording stock losses, recording sightings and signs of activity and keeping  records of costs. Procedures for monitoring should have already  been identified in Step 3.

Monitor progress

Stakeholders should be clear about what will be monitored. While the preceding steps cover what type of monitoring is to be done,  there should also be discussion about exactly what information must be collected, and why. Some issues to consider before monitoring  begins include:

  • Who is the information for and how will they use it?
  • Who will gather the information?
  • Who will analyse the information?
  • What type of strategy will be put in place to ensure collected data  are promptly fed back (eg to landholders or agencies) in an appropriate and useful form?