wild-dogs

Wild Dogs & Feral Cats

Angela Maiden Hunting Leave a Comment

Wild dogs are classified as any dog that runs wild, so can be dingoes, dingo-dog hybrids and any that is not under control. The dingo was thought to come to Australia around 4000 years ago from Asia, and domestic dogs arrived on the first fleet in 1788.

The appearance of wild dogs depends on the breed of dog it descended from. Dingoes have a distinctive short bristled tail and are generally ginger in colour, black dingoes are not widespread across Australia.

Population of Wild Dogs

The population of wild dogs is hard to estimate due to their wild ranging nature, plus their main activity is conducted during the night hours. The dog fence has some control of the distribution of wild dogs in the southern part of Australia. It was built during the 1880’s to keep dingoes out of the more fertile south Eastern region, it covers 5,614 km. With some properties having built their boundary fences as dog fences as extra protection against stock losses. The environmental impact of wild dogs has not been estimated, the cost to Australian agriculture is around $60 million per year. They also carry 38 species of pathogens and parasites that can effect domestic dogs and there are another 50 infectious organisms which have the potential to establish in the wild populations.

Wild dogs are social animals and in favourable conditions will form packs and travel across a set Territory, and this on average is 20 square kilometres but they have been recorded to travel as wide as 250 square kilometres.

Photo Credit: Otto


Control of Wild Dogs

The control of wild dogs is done by several ways, with 1080 baiting very popular across all states. This is commonly done with fresh meat and placed in rows along areas where tracks are found. Also so they can be found and destroy if and when required. Some places use aerial baiting to cover large areas in short periods.

The trapping of wild dogs can be done by experience operators as there are special requirements in most States of Australia on the use of traps.

Shooting Wild Dogs

The shooting of wild dogs is mostly carried out by people paroling the dog fence around the Queensland New South Wales boarders where there are the most officers travelling the fence. On larger properties they sometimes have a person who jobs is to check the fence to make sure of its repair. So they come across wild dogs crossing the fence. Many times wild dogs are tracked for long periods and over several days as they usually travel the same tracks regularly especially when there is a regular food source and to water in drier areas. On one property in South Australia they have shot 18 dogs in the first 6 months of the year, showing there is a growing population on the southern side of the fence. Showing there needs to more measures put in place to stop the spread wilder.

Feral Cats

Feral cats are a major environmental pest in the Australian landscape, cats were introduced in to Australia around 1804 and the first feral population were recorded in Sydney by 1820. By 1900 there was major concerns about there population growth.

It is estimated that today in Australia there are 2.7 million domestic and over 18 million feral cats across all states. Feral cat predation on native mammals is especially high when fox numbers are low. Feral cats have played a role in the changes in the natural ecosystems and the extinction of several mainland bird species. Feral cats only have 2 natural predators wild dogs and wedge tail Eagles.

The estimated cost of feral cats on the bird populations is $144 million annually. This comes from the figures that feral cats consume 75 million native a night, which is around 20 billion mammals, reptiles, birds and even insects every year.

Size & Population of Feral Cats

The size of feral cats has a lot to do with there increased hunting rates, with the average male weigh 4.5 kg and female averaging 3.2kg with some larger animals weighing around 7kg. The most common colour coat is the stripped tabby, with many variations seen in the wild. They usually travel within a home range of 10 square kilometres. The population density in some areas can be 0.7 cats per square kilometre it just depends on the prey population.

Feral Cat Diseases

Feral cats also carry diseases that affect domestic animals and humans. The major one is toxoplasmosis which can cause fetal disease and even miscarriage, the role of feral cats in the spread of the disease is only thought to be small. They are also known to be affected by parasites such as tapeworm which is also transfer to domestic animals.

Hunting Feral Cats

The cost of feral cats management and research is around $2 million per.

The hunting of feral cats is usually as a by product of hunting other animals especially at night, when using a spotlight. The first time I lined up a feral cat I did hesitate a little, but then I thought of all the damage they cause to the environment. Thus making a weekly night trip to the station’s dump more interesting with a variety of animals on offer.

Shooting

When shooting wild dogs you should use no smaller than a 222, the 22-250 Remington and 243 Winchester are the best choice when out chasing wild dogs.

When targeting feral cats a 22 rimfire or 22 magnum is recommended, but my choice is a centrefire due to trajectory and projectile energy so you can take the cats from further away. Other choices can be a 222 and 22-250 Remington.

Conclusion

Before heading out hunting wild dogs or feral cats make sure you have a current firearms licence and are aware of the local states laws and regulations.

In some shires in Queensland there is a bounty on feral cats, a tail worth from.$5-10 each. The wild dog bounty in Victoria has just ended and in Queensland the shires offer different amounts ranging around $30 per scalp, Western Australia the bounty is $100 in the pastoral areas. Just check with the local authorities to see what need to be collected for the bounty, and where collection points are located. On some larger pastoral farms they offer worker incentives to shot them especially those which run along the southern edge of the dog fence. So where ever you find yourself hunting make sure you know the local shires rules on bounties and make the most out of it.

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