Wild dogs can be identified as currently the major factor responsible for a precipitous decline in rangeland goat production in Western Australia. The resultant total unrealised annual farm gate income to Western Australian rangeland goat producers is calculated to be of the order of $11M. This is based upon an estimated stable and sustainable rangeland goat population of 900,000 with a modest harvest rate of 35%, or 315,000 annually. Current annual harvest is of the order of 65,000 goats.
The annual loss as foregone income to the associated sheep industry from wild dog impacts, in addition to that experienced by the rangeland goat industry in the same region, is estimated to be of the order of $14M.
The rangelands goat population has declined from approximately 1,000,000 in 2005 to 150,000 in 2011, the most recent estimate. With current dog impacts and harvest rates the industry is in a critical position.
Current wild dog control efforts would appear to be well resourced but still in need of an overall rangelands coordination facility. Their impacts cannot be objectively evaluated: this is a glaring inadequacy and should be rectified so as to guide the necessary dog population reduction and permit the restoration of rangeland goat populations, together with the re-introduction of sheep enterprises where appropriate. The National Wild Dog Action Plan is seen to provide the necessary tools.
If the rangeland goat industry is to be a key Southern Rangelands enterprise, alone or in association with other commercial grazing livestock, the overall grazing pressure should be regularly and consistently monitored so that the industry is and is seen to be a leader in rangelands biodiversity outcomes.
It is recommended that the industry in the eastern States be ever vigilant and maintain vigorous, coordinated wild dog control as recommended and facilitated within the framework of the National Wild Dog Action Plan.
It is also recommended to monitor goat populations and harvest rates to ensure growth and sustainability. Recent harvest rates are relatively high and current harvest numbers continue to increase. More recent goat population data would provide a basis for industry planning.