TRAPPERS must be at the forefront of any wild dog policy, according to two Gippsland high country farmers.
Scott McCole of Swifts Creek and Kevin Miles of Rileys Creek believe the Victorian Government had placed too much emphasis on 1080 baiting programs and not enough on trapping dogs.
"Baiting has its place, but without trapping and shooting you can't protect the sheep," Mr McCole said.
It was an issue raised at last month's Tallangatta wild dog forum, when many landholders disputed the effectiveness of the increased baiting programs compared with trapping.
Mr McCole said that up until about a year ago the Department of Primary Industries trapping program in their area had virtually ceased and producers were losing thousands of sheep
Four years ago Mr Miles lost 1000 sheep in 12 months and now runs only half the number of Merinos he used to.
He and Mr McCole said their region had been well-serviced by an experienced DPI wild dog controller in the past 12 months and had not lost a sheep for four months.
But they remain concerned about the department's commitment to maintaining this level of service.
"I'm scared we will end up losing our trapper because of the lack of recognition for their role," Mr Miles said.
"It's all about baits and not about trappers."
A DPI spokesman said the department had "moved away from a reliance on reactive trapping and has more focus on proactive baiting to complement reactive trapping and other control methods".