Farmer takes desperate measures to protect sheep from dogs
TONIGHT, Winwill sheep farmer Ben Bowen will sleep in a swag beside his flock to protect them from another wild dog attack.
He's slept in the paddock for the past four nights, after eight of his sheep were savagely attacked on Saturday night - four died and another four are still recovering.
Mr Bowen is sacrificing sleep to ensure their welfare, not just for the sake of the sheep but because they are his livelihood.
"This should be my income, but we just keep getting kicked and kicked," Mr Bowen said.
Weeks before the sheep attack he bought a $800 chicken pen to stop them being attacked.
Mr Bowen has farmed in the Lockyer Valley for just eight months.
He moved from Cunnamulla to farm on his partner's family property in a bid to get away from the drought - but with the Lockyer Valley also being affected by the dry and now the sheep attacks, Mr Bowen can't seem to catch a break.
While the drought is something Mr Bowen can't change, he said there was a way to stop dog attacks.
He urged the community to get involved in the Lockyer Valley Regional Council's baiting program.
"Let's band together and we will win - that's my experience from the west," he said.
"If we don't all do it we are fighting a losing battle."
Mr Bowen's partner, Megan Sippel, has lived in the Lockyer Valley her whole life and can't believe the what's happening.
"I never thought there would be dingoes here, but it's an epidemic," Miss Sippel said.
"I didn't think this would ever happen."
She said fighting the "epidemic" was vital to the livelihood of farmers.
"My brother is chasing wild dogs away from his calves with a torch on his motorbike at Ma Ma Creek," she said.
"They're not scared of cars, they're not scared of lights or people.
"They're cunning as, they know they're getting away with murder."
The Sippels aren't the only farmers to be affected, at least another five residents had their animals attacked by wild dogs in the past month.
To manage pests, Lockyer Valley Regional Council conducts a vertebrate pest baiting program throughout the region to control wild dogs, pigs and foxes.
"I really urge people get involved in the program," Miss Sippel said.
"Hopefully we can get on top of it because they're close to town now and soon they'll be getting people's domestic dogs."
Miss Sippel wanted to work with companies, community members and council to develop a successful plan of attack.
She hoped a system that included both fresh meat and dry baits would be implemented, as sourcing blood to put to dry baits was often difficult.
The Wild Dog, Fox and Pig 1080 Baiting Program is available to eligible residents.
Bait collection will take place at various places across the Lockyer Valley from May 22, but residents must apply before 4.30pm on Wednesday, May 15, if they wish to collect.