Baiting stepped up after wild dog attack on grandmother
NORTH Coast Local Land Services has launched a three month baiting program aimed at culling wild dogs during their breeding season.
The move comes as the region reels from news of a frightening attack on a 72-year-old woman on the Tweed Coast.
Edna Ryan had been walking along the beach at Casuarina when she was confronted by a pack of wild dogs that "wanted to hunt me as though I was food".
Mrs Ryan was forced to plunge into the ocean, fully clothed, and wade through chest deep surf to Cabarita while the dogs circled in the shallow water trying to get at her.
"I was screaming, 'Somebody please help me!' I thought I was going to die," she said.
When the dogs finally left, Mrs Ryan left the water and ran for home, but before she could get there, the dogs returned and chased her all the way to her front door.
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Mrs Ryan's story triggered a rush of support from Northern Star readers yesterday, with comments of support on our website and Facebook page.
"Its going to happen here too," warned Sharon Wallwork on the Star's Facebook page. "Wild dogs are circling farmers in the maca farms."
"Wild dogs have been a growing problem for many years. Only now that they are getting in the way of lifestylers that they realize there is a problem," commented No Stoopid on our website.
"Proper farmers have known about this for decades and have struggled with the issues. They get very little help, indeed they get the Greenies complaining when they actually do something."
It's certainly true the problem is not new.
The Star has been reporting on issues with wild dogs for many years, including incidents of dogs menacing children in their front yards and farmers on their land.
However, while there have been reports of people being frightened by dogs and repeated incidents of dogs attacking livestock, full blown attacks such as the one experienced by Mrs Ryan were almost unheard of.
North Coast Local Land Services team leader Dean Chamberlain said it was a common belief the only impacts from wild dogs were attacks on livestock.
"Unfortunately this is no longer the case with changing land uses and urban sprawl changing the wild dog-human interface," Mr Chamberlain said.
"Many landholders now carry out control in areas under horticulture, for protection of wildlife and protection of domestic pets - particularly in the peri-urban areas.
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"You will get impacts at some point, it is better to be proactive."
Over the next three months the NCLLS will continue its baiting program around Lismore north to the border, as well as west through to Kyogle he said.
Trappers are also an option but they are generally used as a "mop-up strategy," when they have problem dogs, those that linger despite a poisoning program.
Last year a tenure-neutral approach to baiting saw 78 Kyogle properties participate in coordinated group baiting program. The program covered over 15,000 hectares and involved over 1100 baits.
This program is "ready to be ramped up again" in the coming months, Neil Hing, senior biodiversity officer at NCLLS said.
The NCLLS also runs regular training programs to equip landholders with the skills to run their own baiting programs he said.