There has been an extraordinary reaction to a Stock and Land article on a new wild dog advisory committee(read here). But it doesn't surprise me - the impacts of wild dogs on rural Australian's lives are always devastating, and sadly common in this job.
Reading the comments made on the story, I ask myself again "how many wool producer's have left the industry due to wild dogs"? The wool industry is notorious for its boom and bust cycles and there has been a lot more "bust" than "boom" in my lifetime. Despite prices and drought concerns, it is often said that a family have "got out of sheep" because of the dogs. Maybe dogs are the straw that breaks the camel's back?
I remember one incident as a postgraduate student at the University of Sydney. I was working on a weekend measuring something on my sows in the climate rooms at the back of the building when a technician pulled up with a trailer load of mauled sheep. From memory, there were 17 and they were from an experiment into a footrot vaccine. I think 16 of the 17 were from the experimental group without footrot because these were the animals that ran from the dogs and died from stress. Apparently the footrot-affected animals were too sore to run away and the dogs pretty well left them alone. These were local domestic dogs banding together to have fun on one of the University's farms on the outskirts of Sydney.
I struggle to remember the technician's name but I clearly remember his emotions. It was devastating. He was a big strong bloke; his income wasn't affected; he wasn't relying on the experiment's results for a thesis but he was still wrought.
If I have such a vivid memory of a single incident that hardly impacted me personally and took place a few decades ago, I guess it might give a small hint of the impact of dogs. Subject to regular attacks, I'm certain I couldn't live with the constant stress.
Picture: Queensland wool producer and Chairman of the National Wild Dog Management Advisory committee, Brett Findlay (Stock and Land).