More than 660 landholders took part in coordinated wild dog control from April through to June - in a COVID safe approach - with this year's program taking on extra importance due to the increased pest threat in areas affected by bushfires and drought.
Kristy Bennetts, Central Tablelands Local Land Services senior biosecurity officer, said that the success of the program is a win for biodiversity protection and lambing ewes.
"After a summer plagued by bushfire and drought, many native species were particularly vulnerable to wild dog attack," she said.
"We also have a lot of ewes lambing during the autumn period, so the timing was right to limit the number of young dogs on the prowl for new hunting grounds, and to reduce the population of mature dogs during the breeding season."
Despite COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions, farmers and other concerned landholders stepped up to tackle the wild dog threat by taking part in organised baiting, cooperating with newly implemented LLS COVID safe operational rules.
And while the Coronavirus added a new level of difficulty to this year's autumn baiting program, Ms Bennetts said that participants adapted well to the changes required to the way standard procedures had to be undertaken.
"We've had a really positive response from everyone involved with landholders adapting well to the restrictions put in place for their safety," she said.
In order to achieve this, Central Tablelands LLS staff worked with pest management groups to ensure landholders but didn't congregate in bait pick-up areas. Meanwhile, NSW Police and local Council staff were kept informed on how operations were being conducted.
Paperwork and bait packs were pre-prepared to reduce time spent at bait pick-up points, and hand sanitiser was provided for use by all parties during interactions between LLS staff and landholders.
An increasing number of wild dog attacks have been reported in the Bathurst area with wild dogs regularly seen in the Bylong, Lue, Hill End, Hargraves and Nullo Mountain areas. Sightings also indicate wild dogs are rapidly repopulating areas affected by bush fire in the Wolgan Valley north of Lithgow.
At the commencement of the autumn program, landholders had reported an increase in feral pest activity, including pigs, foxes, deer and wild dogs escaping the vast tracts of land burnt by the Gospers Mountain and Palmers Oakey bush fires.
- For more information about integrated feral pest management to assist wildlife recovery and agricultural production, contact Kristy Bennetts at Central Tablelands Local Land Services on (02) 6378 1700.