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Wild dogs

Wild dogs, described as all wild living dogs, including dingoes, feral domestic dogs and crosses of the two, are a widespread and destructive agricultural pest that cause significant environmental and financial damage. They are widely distributed and abundant across Australia.

MLA is supporting the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS) to research wild dog management processes that are economically, ecologically and socially informed to provide effective strategic wild dog management action plans. 

MLA also supports the adoption of best practice wild dog management activities by co-funding a National Wild Dog Management Coordinator. 

PestSmart, which is powered by the CISS, provides information about wild dogs relating to their biology, ecology, impacts and best practice management. 

Fast facts 

  • The dingo, Canis familiaris, is Australia's wild dog. It is an ancient breed of domestic dog that was introduced to Australia, probably by Asian seafarers, about 4,000 years ago. Its origins have been traced back to early breeds of domestic dogs in South-East Asia. The dingo readily crosses with domestic dogs, resulting in significant historical and more recent crossbreeding with modern domestic breeds of dogs since European settlement.
  • Wild dogs and dingoes are also known to directly threaten native mammals, birds and reptiles.

Impact of wild dogs in Australia 

Wild dogs can affect livestock enterprises as they: 

  • contribute to lamb and sheep losses
  • contribute to calf losses
  • contribute to managed goat losses
  • spread diseases that affect livestock health
  • damage carcases and diseases affecting red meat processing
  • harass livestock
  • can be a potential host of exotics diseases.

Control methods 

The National Wild Dog Action Plan 2020 (NWDAP), developed in 2014 and now extended until 2030, is supported by the federal government as well as industry and outlines the principles of best practice management for wild dogs. For the latest news from NWDAP, follow them on LinkedIn here or X here. You can also subscribe to their newsletter by visiting their website.

Wild dog management is the responsibility of state jurisdictions, so requirements differ depending on where control is carried out. Check with your local group and/or state department before starting a control program. The NWDAP principles underpin each state’s plan and provide important guidance to help producers formulate effective, best practice, humane management programs. 

One such program is the nil-tenure approach. This approach acknowledges that wild dogs do not recognise property boundaries and encourages community-driven, collaborative control programs. Talk to your local agriculture department or government agency to connect with established groups, learn basic skills and get professional support. 

Common control tools include baiting (1080 and PAPP, Canid Pest Ejectors), trapping, shooting, exclusion fencing and guardian animals. They are often used in combination as part of a coordinated control program. 

PestSmart’s Glovebox Guide for Managing Wild Dogs is a great resource to find out which tools will work best for different situations. 

The PestSmart website also contains detailed Standard Operating Procedures for control methods, including: 

Before you start, get involved in WildDogScan. Log your sightings/impacts and see what other wild dog activity is happening around you to better inform your management strategy.