Increase in wild dog sightings worries landowners
THE drought has brought much heartache and struggle to the region, and now a feral pest problem is adding to the issues of dwindling water and feed.
Landowners across the region have reported an increase in pest animal issues, in particular wild dogs threatening already depleted herds.
Iredale hobby farmers Lynette and James Friss run about 30 head of sheep on their property and say more than eight wild dogs have been shot recently in their neighbourhood alone.
"(The wild dogs) have got worse, and even before the drought they had started to get worse - they're building up again," Mrs Friss said.
She said the dry conditions meant the wild animals were travelling further afield for food, bringing them into conflict with farmers and their animals.
But her husband said attacks on livestock were never the work of hungry dogs.
It's not for eating - it's for sport.
He said the increased roadkill in the area had created the perfect food source for wild dogs.
"There's dead wallabies everywhere... If there's food, (the wild dogs) stay."
Iredale property owner Thomas Sheppard has also seen evidence of increased pest animals in the area.
He said the problem culminated in the family pooch being viciously killed by a wild dog during the night a few weeks ago.
"We left the dogs out that night because bandicoots and wallabies have been coming so close to the house at night, but to wake up to those cries and then see a wild dog over our dog was very traumatic," Mr Sheppard said.
He was now frightened for his children's safety given how close the attack was to their home.
That happened only 30m from the house. I've never seen a dog that close.
Mr Sheppard has installed surveillance cameras on his property with the assistance of Lockyer Valley Regional Council's pest management team and is intent on trapping the dog.
He said the council's pest management process played an important role in controlling the issue.
"Without coordinated programs, you're really not going to have an impact on wild animals, so their support is greatly appreciated and the resources made available by them are greatly appreciated too."
Councils ready to lend assistance
Lockyer Valley Regional Council's environment portfolio councillor Rick Vela says staff are aware of the increase in pests and have been working to control the problem.
"Due to the prolonged drought, the Lockyer Valley has experienced an increase in the number of feral pest animals as pests are on the move to obtain food and water sources.
"To manage this, council has increased its range of feral animal traps and can assist landholders with specialised advice.
"Council also offers emergency baiting programs for feral pest incidents," Cr Vela said.
It is a similar situation in Somerset, where the region's mayor Graeme Lehmann also confirmed a rise in pest sightings.
"Pest plants are dormant at the moment due to current weather conditions, however there is a slight increase in pest animal sightings in the region," Cr Lehmann said.
While control of feral animals is largely the responsibility of landholders, Cr Vela said the council was ready and able to help residents.
"Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, individual landholders are responsible for their own general biosecurity obligation, however Lockyer Valley Regional Council's pest management team can assist in the management of pest animal and weed issues," he said.
"Council also offers baiting and trapping options for feral pest animals, as well as herbicide subsidy and equipment hire for the treatment of specific pest plants."