DINGOES have plagued livestock production for most of the past two centuries but new research shows they may do more good than harm.
Invasive Animals CRC and partners Australian Wool Innovation and Meat and Livestock Australia have embarked on a five-year research program to enhance the nation's ability to manage the impacts of dingoes.
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"This information is critical to manage this unique and charismatic predator, while mitigating livestock losses,'' CRC researcher Peter Fleming said.
Mr Fleming is based at Orange at the Vertebrate Pest Research Unit of Biosecurity NSW.
Mr Fleming said there was much uncertainty about potential cats and fox suppression by free-ranging dogs, including dingoes.
"Right now, pressure is being brought to bear on livestock producers in some areas to reduce lethal control of all free-ranging dogs because of potential environmental benefit of dingoes,'' he said.
"We know wild dogs and sheep don't mix and that strategic co-management is the best way to go for both conservation and agricultural goals.
"Community wild dog control programs in livestock production areas can suffer because of conflicting information about the roles of dingoes and the other free-ranging wild dogs.''
He said, depending on what they were eating at the time, free-ranging dogs were viewed differently by people.
"For some, they are destructive pests attacking sheep and cattle,'' he said.
"For others, dingoes are seen as an under-utilised weapon against feral cats and foxes.
"It's critically important that we manage the negative impacts of free-ranging dogs using the most up-to-date scientific information.''
The research program will center on north-east NSW and south-east Queensland, a biodiversity hotspot but where livestock producers continue to suffer predation problems.
"In five years time we will have a sound understanding of the relationships between the predators, prey, plants and people in the highly-productive north-east NSW,'' Mr Fleming said.