Research study: Impact and management of wild dogs in the NT

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A research study to assess the impacts of wild dogs on beef cattle and to review current management strategies across the Northern Territory is being conducted by the Department of Primary Industry and Resources and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The impact of wild dog attacks

As well as production losses from predation, attacks from wild dogs are a serious animal welfare issue with surviving calves often left with severe injuries. Non-fatal attacks also have economic effect as bite marks, torn ears and other scarring substantially reducing the value of the livestock.

Why study wild dog attacks?

Determining the level of impact that wild dogs have on the productivity of herds has been of interest to beef cattle stakeholders for a long time. Even though recent research has reported that three in every twenty pregnancies do not result in a calf for a typical herd located in the northern parts of Australia, the amount of this reproductive loss that is attributable to wild dogs is currently unknown.

The study’s overall objective

The overall objective of this study is to quantify the prevalence of non-fatal attacks from wild dogs on young cattle in the Northern Territory (NT) and to make available information that could be considered by industry in the future development of best practice guidelines.

Specific goals of the study

This study will assess data, observations and current practices submitted by Northern Territory pastoralists, and assess the strength of association between risk factors (cow-age class, baiting method, proximity to a national park, etc) and indicators of wild dog activity. If adequate calf loss data is captured, the study will also look to assess the correlation between non-fatal attack indicators and fatality rates in order to understand if calf loss predictions can be made. Other anticipated outcomes include:

  • regional estimates for the frequency of mauled young cattle presenting at muster described
  • associative factors of wild dog attacks identified (candidate factors potentially include approach to wild dog management, cow-age class, region, year of observation and fire)
  • this research will provide practical information and evidence for station managers and stakeholders
  • the study also aims to describe the different management strategies applied to manage wild dogs across the NT and investigate their impact on wild dog attack rates.

How to participate in the wild dog study

A wild dog data management system has been established for the project, allowing stations within the NT to contribute data.

Stations are asked to contribute data on the percentage of mauled calves and weaners presenting at muster with sign of non-fatal wild dog attack.

Pastoralists are urged to contribute their observations of wild dog attacks on their properties. Data on the percentage of mauled calves and weaners presenting at muster with signs of non-fatal wild dog attack plus current strategies used to manage wild dogs is needed.

Paddock and wild dog attack data can be electronically entered here.

Data on a property’s management strategy to manage wild dogs can be electronically entered here.

Contacts and more information

A hard copy of the form is available by contacting:

Kieren McCosker
Beef Production Scientist
Department of Primary Industry and Resources
Kieren.Mccosker@nt.gov.au

Will Dobbie
Research Officer
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
William.Dobbie@nt.gov.au.

Further information on wild dog management is also available at nt.gov.au.

Last updated: 06 March 2017