Murchison Cellular Fence Will Allow Increase in Sheep and Goats

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Murchison regional vermin cell fencing has been completed.

Control of feral dogs, reconstruction of the sheep and goat herd in the Murchison region of Western Australia will be reinforced by the completion of a dog-proof fence covering 6.5 million hectares.

The completion this month of the Murchison Regional Pest Cell means 55 pastoral leases are now surrounded by a feral dog-proof fence which, over time, will allow a return to small animal production.

The final 285 km leg connecting the existing No.2 Pest Fence and the Washington State Fence was completed by the Murchison Regional Pest Council with funding of $ 2.25 million under the federal government’s Building Better Regions project. An additional $ 750,000 was provided by state and local governments.

Mid West Development Commission Acting Managing Director Anne Finlay said the completion of the Murchison Regional Pest Cell marks an important milestone in the fight against feral dogs and rebuilding a sheep industry in the region.

“Livestock prices have skyrocketed and restoring small livestock to the southern pastures as a source of income for local pastoralists will boost diversification in the region, creating new opportunities for shearers, livestock transporters and others. local entrepreneurs, ”said Ms. Finlay.

“The MRV Cell project demonstrates the benefits to industry and regional communities that result from strong collaboration with industry, state and federal governments and other stakeholders. “

For cattle farmer and former sheep and goat producer Ashley Dowden, the completion of the project was the culmination of two decades of lobbying for exclusion fences to join the state barrier.

Initial funding was received as regional and Mid West Development Commission royalties to start a 180 km section, but no further funding was provided.

“We kept fighting and got everyone inside the airframe to agree to contribute, all counties on board and willing to contribute and used this funding to leverage a request for a federal building grant. capacity, ”Mr. Dowden said.

Although the grant application was unsuccessful, Jorgen Jensen, as the newly elected president of Mt Magnet County, continued to successfully lobby for the project to be fully funded.

Mr. Dowden is a past president of Mt Magnet County and a former member of the WA Wild Dog Action Group.

The feral dogs had nearly wiped out his own pastoral business, forcing a transition from sheep and goats to cattle from 2008.

“We farm 10,000 merino and sell 3,000 to 4,000 goats a year. Today there are literally two properties in this area that farm small livestock and they have built their own exclusion fences,” he said. -he declares.

“Basically, the small livestock industry has been wiped out and there has been a huge exodus of families and long-term contract recruiters.”

Pastoralist businesses are in decline

An economic study of pastoral enterprises within the proposed cell in 2012 showed that resort profitability had been steadily declining over the previous decade, the same period that had seen an explosion in feral dog numbers and attacks against them. the cattle. Between 2000 and 2012, the return on assets fell from 7.5 to -7.1 percent despite significant improvements in commodity prices.

Breeders reported that feral dogs impacted their merino businesses in the range of 40 to 75 percent of calculated deaths, resulting in a reduction in lambing by 30 to 60 percent and wool cuts of 20 percent. hundred.

The average annual loss from feral dog attacks per property was $ 90,490 and 55% had stopped running sheep due to predation.

A vermin cell will benefit biodiversity, jobs and local businesses

A member of the Jalyadi Fencing team drills another hole for the fence of the regional vermin cell in Murchison.

Murchison Regional Vermin Council chairman Jorgen Jensen said savings of $ 400,000 were expected on the project.

A request has been made to the Building Better Regions Fund to use the savings to upgrade 38 km of Pest Fence No.1 in the northeast corner of the Pest Cell to replace a section prone to flooding over the next six months. .

The length of the fencing for the entire Murchison area vermin cell is 1,400 km completed at a cost of $ 5.82 million with landowners and member councils contributing financially or in-kind.

The ripple effects include benefits to the environment and biodiversity, the region supporting 36 threatened species and the prospect of native vegetation regeneration, reduced soil loss and carrying capacity. increased.

The increased demand for livestock and transportation, farm supplies, mowing contractors, permanent and casual labor will increase the profitability of local and regional businesses.

Mr Jensen said the completion of Murchison’s vermin cell would reduce the number of feral dogs to the point of having no significant impact on livestock, allowing stations to rebuild their small breeding businesses.

“The breeders are keenly aware that the completion of the cell will not result in the reduction of feral dogs to insignificant numbers, but the solution requires the effective management of parallel programs of strategic planning and surveillance, fencing, baiting. , entrapment and the implementation of new controls. technologies, ”he said.


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