Gascoyne Pastoralists Welcome Dog Fence Investment

State Government Approves $986,000 for much-needed exclusion fencing. 

The Gascoyne Region’s $30 million pastoral industry is celebrating a win following a submission to government seeking support for a Carnarvon Rangelends Barrier Fence (CRBF) – a fenced area to protect approximately 805,000 ha of grazing land from wild dogs. 

The application for the grant was approved as part of the co-funded McGowan Government’s Wild Dog program with the pastoralists inside the cell. It follows investment in three other cell fences across the Murchison and Goldfields as part of the Rangelands Cell Fencing Program, co-funded by the State and Federal governments.

The program supports pastoralists in the rangelands to build cell fences to protect sheep and goats, with successful applicants required to contribute a minimum of half the cost of fence construction and undertake ongoing fence maintenance and wild dog control within the cell.

The aim of the project is to return stations within the CRBF to being sustainable small stock enterprises, with capacity to restock around 70,000 sheep and goats. The cell will also contribute towards drought proofing pastoral properties, provide future employment opportunities and reduce personal and social stress while having a positive environmental impact. 

The Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food, Alannah MacTiernan, widely consulted industry prior to signing off on the cell fencing bid. 

According to the official statement the Minister says “Prolonged predation by wild dogs has affected the confidence to restock or invest to grow pastoral businesses and strengthen the pastoral industry across the rangelands.

“Pastoralists in the West Gascoyne are some of the last remaining sheep producers in the rangelands of Western Australia. Completion of the cell fence will allow these producers to rebuild their flocks and create more economic activity in the region.

“Pastoralists inside the Carnarvon Rangelands Barrier Fence estimate this will take livestock production from around 20,000 head up to 70,000 head of sheep, or equivalent mix with cattle and goats.

“These trial cell fencing projects are part of a strategic approach by the McGowan Government in partnership with industry to help small-stock growers deal with wild dog predation.”

Gascoyne Food Council representative and goat farmer Chris Higham said that industry is extremely pleased with the outcome, which will ensure that fence construction, as well as grading, surveying, clearing and labour will be adequately funded. 

“The Minister has shown amazing vision in supporting industry on this issue. The contribution is very meaningful and will greatly improve outcomes for pastoralists, from an animal welfare and a financial point of view,” said Chris.

According to the DPIRD website, stock losses from wild dogs in the rangelands of Western Australia alone are estimated at $25 million per annum and tend to predate on smaller stock such as lambs and goats. The CRBF will open up opportunities, including allowing pastoralists to graze sheep once again, an industry that was decimated by stock losses to the point that is has not been viable to continue. 

To date, control of wild dogs has been the remit of the land holder, however with the impact continuing to escalate, there has been broad recognition of the need for greater coordination and a revision of the State’s plan for wild dog management. A move towards cell fencing, which involves building fencing built around neighboring properties, allows easier removal of dogs and can prevent them from reentering. 

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