Tuesday, 20 December 2022


Wild dog control

Wild dog control

Bev McARTHUR (Western Victoria) (19:06): (3) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Environment and Climate Action and concerns the appallingly dishonest ABC 7.30 report last month on the Victorian wild dog program. The program was a study in misrepresentation, with selective inclusion, misleading omission and ever-present exaggeration. The dogs in the footage are in fact being controlled within the livestock protection zone, a 3-kilometre strip of public land adjoining productive farmland. Dingoes are unprotected in this limited area and are controlled before they move on to private land, where they threaten livestock. This distorted propaganda masquerading as journalism omitted several key facts. This livestock protection zone is the only area in which wild dog control is undertaken in Victoria, accounting for just 4 per cent of public land east of the Hume Highway. Wild dogs and dingoes are left undisturbed in the remaining 96 per cent; they live freely in the ecosystem. The population inside the park remains stable. It is not being driven to extinction, as the program implied.

The Victorian wild dog program traps on average 550 dogs a year. It has done so for the past 10 years, demonstrating the stability of the population. And it works. It disperses wild dogs – or dingoes, if you want to call them that – that move from the core of the park towards private land, where they threaten livestock, but also in the other direction it prevents domestic dogs moving into the park and crossbreeding with the dingoes that are there. This is sustainable and humane wildlife management. Using a small strip of land, it has achieved a 70 per cent reduction in livestock attacks on farms bordering the state parks in question. Defend the Wild claim that padded-jaw foothold traps are cruel and inhumane, yet their footage actually shows animals unworried by the traps themselves but terrified and trying to escape from the proximate threat of humans. Academic researchers fitting radio collars use these same traps. They have long been employed by scientists without cruelty.

My objection to the program is not just that it is misleading; the presence of activists and a film crew also directly distressed trapped animals, and in removing and transporting one animal, numerous state and federal biosecurity rules were breached. But the action I seek relates to the appalling threat to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning employees secretly filmed by Defend the Wild and broadcast by the 7.30 program. So, Minister, will you assure me you will prosecute the activists involved and, in line with your duty of care to staff, protect those DELWP employees now subject to appalling online and offline vilification and threats?

The PRESIDENT: That was a little bit over time, Mrs McArthur.

Bev McArthur: Oh, you are very generous on your first day, President, thank you. What a hero!

The PRESIDENT: Consider that a yellow card.