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Are we focussing wild dog control the wrong time of the year and going about it the wrong way?

Allen, L. and Byrne, D. (2008) Are we focussing wild dog control the wrong time of the year and going about it the wrong way? In: Proceedings of the 14th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference, 10-13 June 2008, Canberra, ACT.

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Publisher URL: http://www.invasiveanimals.com/publications/proceedings/index.html

Abstract

Our evaluation of the predation of calves by wild dogs in the 1990s found that the number of calves killed and frequency of years that calf losses occurred, is higher in baited areas compared to adjoining, non-baited areas of similar size. Calf losses were highest with poor seasonal conditions, low prey numbers and where baited areas were re-colonised by wild dogs soon after baiting.

We monitored wild dog “activity” before and after 35 baiting programs in southwest, central west and far north Queensland between 1994 and 2006 and found change in activity depends on the timing of the baiting. Baiting programs conducted between October and April show an increase in dog activity post-baiting (average increase of 219.1%, SEM 100.9, n=9, for programs conducted in October and November; an increase of 82.5%, SEM 54.5, n=7 for programs conducted in March and April; and a decrease in activity of 46.5%, SEM 10.2, n=19 for programs conducted between May and September).

We monitored the seasonal activity and dispersal of wild dogs fitted with satellite transmitters 2006 to present. We have found that:

• Activity of breeding males and females, whilst rearing and nurturing pups, is focussed around the den between July to September and away from areas of human activity. Activity of breeding groups appears to avoid locations of human activity until juveniles become independent (around late November).

• While independent and solitary yearlings often have unstable, elliptically-shaped territories in less favourable areas, members of breeding groups have territories that appear seasonally stable and circular located in more favourable habitats.

• Extra-territorial forays of solitary yearlings can be huge, in excess of 200 km. The largest forays we have monitored have occurred when the activity of pack members is focussed around rearing pups and juveniles (August to November).

• Where wild dogs have dispersed or had significant territorial expansion, it has occurred within days of baiting programs and onto recently baited properties.

• The wild dogs we have tracked have followed netting barrier fences for hundreds of kilometres and lived adjacent to or bypassed numerous grids in the barrier.

Based on these studies, we conclude that a proportion of the perceived decline in dog activity between May and September, post baiting, is due to a decline in dog activity in areas associated with human activity. The increase in dog activity post-baiting between October and May (and increased calf predation on baited properties) is likely caused by wild dogs dispersing (juveniles and yearlings) or expanding (adults) their territory into baited, now ‘vacant’, areas. We hypothesise that baiting programs should be focussed in summer and autumn commencing late November as soon as juveniles become independent of adults. We also hypothesise that instead of large, annual or semi-annual baiting programs, laying the same number of baits over 4-6 weeks may be more effective. These hypotheses need to be tested through an adaptive management project.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Corporate Creators:QPIF
Additional Information:© Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre.
Keywords:Baiting; calves; control; predation; wild dogs; seasonality; time of year.
Subjects:Science > Zoology > Animal behaviour
Science > Invasive Species > Animals > Animal control and ecology
Science > Zoology > Chordates. Vertebrates > Mammals > Carnivora > Canidae (Dogs)
Deposited On:12 Jun 2009 00:38
Last Modified:10 Jun 2011 05:01

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