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Gold Coast natural environment

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Wild dogs

A wild dog is a declared Category 3 pest animal under the provisions of the Biosecurity Act 2014. It is the responsibility of the landowner to take all reasonable steps to keep their property free of declared pest animals.

'Wild dog' is a term that describes any dog which is living in a wild state. This includes dingoes, dingo hybrids or a domestic dog which has been abandoned and forced to live in a wild state. The latter is extremely rare.

Wild dogs pose a serious threat to native wildlife and domestic animals.

Ecology

  • Wild dogs on the Gold Coast are found in a variety of coat colours including tan, tan and white, sable, brindle, black and tan, and a combination of these colours.
  • DNA tests from a number of wild dogs on the Gold Coast have shown them to be around 50 per cent dingo and 50 per cent domestic dog.
  • They are generally between 14 and 20 kilograms in weight.
  • Wild dogs do not bark - they howl to attract pack members and repel intruders from their territory.
  • They can travel over ten kilometres in a night.
  • Wild dogs have one defined breeding season which is around April to June each year.
  • Pups are born about 63 days after conception. Litters generally include up to six pups.
  • Wild dogs are found in packs of between three and 12, however this differs throughout the seasons due to various factors. For example, wild dogs will pair up in breeding time and will live as a family group after whelping.

Favourable habitat

Wild dogs are found in rural and peri-urban areas of the Gold Coast. Wild dogs require a large area in which to hunt and the food availability in the area will dictate how many wild dogs can inhabit the area. The areas in which they are found are usually large parcels of untouched land where they can roam freely without fear of disturbance. These areas are normally close to farming areas and acreage where they are often sighted chasing or attacking stock animals. Wild dogs are generally fearful of humans and will not approach a person unless encouraged with food or protecting themselves or their pack. Do not approach or feed wild dogs, as they can lose their fear of humans and can be dangerous.

Wild dog management

Land owners can remedy a wild dog problem on their property by using one or more of the following methods:

Baiting

Baiting for wild dogs with 1080 is an approved method of controlling them, however due to restrictions this is not a method which can be used throughout much of the Gold Coast.

Shooting

Only persons licensed with the appropriate weapons license are allowed to discharge a firearm - this is also subject to minimum property sizes.

Shooting is a valid method for control of wild dogs, however this is a very opportunistic method and cannot be relied upon to control the population as a whole.

Exclusion fencing

Enclosing your property with pest animal exclusion fencing will make it less attractive to wild dogs.

Fencing should be at least 1.5 metres high and should be buried under the ground at least 150 millimetres to prevent wild dogs from digging under. The most commonly used mesh size is 75 millimetres square. The mesh may need to be smaller if there is a need to exclude foxes also.

Exclusion fencing can be very costly, however it is the only reliable method to ensure the animals are not entering the property. In larger properties, it may be more cost effective to ‘dog-proof’ a section of the property to house at risk animals such as juvenile large stock (such as horses and cattle), and also small stock species (such as sheep, goats, chickens).

Soft catch, rubber-jawed, foot-hold traps

You may use traps to capture wild dogs. Trapping techniques must conform to accepted animal welfare practices and the traps used must be approved by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

Soft catch rubber-jawed traps are designed to firmly hold captured wild dogs and practically eliminate trap-induced and self-induced injury. Trapping using this method is not recommended for urban or peri-urban areas due to the chance of catching other animals including wildlife and domestic animals. Trapping is an effective approach to capturing wild dogs, however a high level of skill is required.

Cage traps

Although adult wild dogs are rarely captured in cage-type traps, a correctly set cage trap could capture juvenile wild dogs. These traps can be purchased from most produce stores and agricultural suppliers.

Common sense measures

  • Never feed or attempt to befriend wild dogs. Wild dogs that lose their fear of humans are a hazard.
  • At night keep your pets inside. A wild dog will attack domestic dogs and any other pet or native animal if the opportunity arises.
  • It is uncommon for a wild dog to attack an adult, however take extreme care if you are approached by one.
  • Tell your children to stay away from wild dogs and to remain still and not run away if they are threatened by one.
  • If a wild dog approaches a horse with rider, the rider should calmly walk the horse away from the dog.

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