FARMERS plan to build a fence around 400,000ha of outback Queensland to save a sheep industry and wildlife at the mercy of wild dogs.
But farmers also hope their work in combating the dogs may improve the perception held by city dwellers that landholders are a part of the environmental problem rather than part of the solution.
Only three sheep graziers are left in the Morven district, almost 100km east of Charleville, after being devastated by the end of the floor price for wool in 1990 and then the losses incurred by dogs, The Courier-Mail reports.
Cattle graziers also suffer severe losses from dogs known to savage calves and lambs for fun rather than food.
Will Roberts, whose family has been on the Victoria Downs property for 106 years, is one of the farmers pushing for the fence, which will cost about $2 million by some estimates but potentially save him, local wildlife and the remaining sheep.
"It's one of the misconceptions that farmers are raping and killing the environment. We spend a lot of time trying to get rid of the theory that we don't care," he said.
"We look on our property as a garden. Ninety-five per cent (of farmers) love the land and love the environment.
"You become really interested in what's around you. You really do care for what's there."
This year, a trapper killed about 200 dogs on the Roberts property at a cost of $500 a pelt. Similar numbers were taken off in previous years, so an annual bill of $100,000 means contributing to a fence also makes economic sense.
"He is having a field day but he is the Don Bradman of trappers," Mr Roberts said.
"We win the battle every year, but we don't win the war because they come in from areas where people are not so pro-active."
Since the grazier started killing off the dogs, wildlife has returned. First it was the plains turkeys, then plovers, echidnas and a bilby were being spotted.
Koalas were starting to return until drought hit a decade ago. Bettongs, once considered extinct in the district and sometimes called rat kangaroos, are back in numbers.
"I saw one plains turkey when I was 11 and one when I was 16 and now they are everywhere," Mr Roberts said.
The baiting program is aimed at wild dogs, most of which are not dingoes, and also kills off feral cats and pigs.
The planned Morven fence will be about 320km long and funded mostly by landowners.
The Queensland Government has also appointed five wild dog officers to help co-ordinate the fight and it has changed regulations surrounding the baiting program.
Under the Government's management strategy, wild dogs are declared a pest and land managers in this state have a legal responsibility to control the feral animals on their property.
Read more at The Courier-Mail