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Good dog! Using livestock guardian dogs to protect livestock from predators in Australia's extensive grazing systems

Van Bommel, Linda; Johnson, Christopher N

Description

Context Wild predators are a serious threat to livestock in Australia. Livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) may be able to reduce or eliminate predation, but their effectiveness in Australian grazing systems has not been systematically evaluated. In particular, little is known about the effectiveness of LGDs in situations where they range freely over large areas in company with large numbers of livestock. Aims We aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of LGDs as currently used in Australia and determine...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorVan Bommel, Linda
dc.contributor.authorJohnson, Christopher N
dc.date.accessioned2015-12-10T23:20:19Z
dc.identifier.issn1035-3712
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/66275
dc.description.abstractContext Wild predators are a serious threat to livestock in Australia. Livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) may be able to reduce or eliminate predation, but their effectiveness in Australian grazing systems has not been systematically evaluated. In particular, little is known about the effectiveness of LGDs in situations where they range freely over large areas in company with large numbers of livestock. Aims We aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of LGDs as currently used in Australia and determine the factors influencing effectiveness, in particular in relation to scale of management. We also documented how LGDs are managed in Australia, evaluated their cost effectiveness, and identified factors that influence the number of dogs required in different property situations. Methods We conducted a telephone survey of 150 livestock producers with LGDs in Australia, including all livestock types and property situations, in all States. Ten producers were visited, of which one is detailed as a case study. Key results Effectiveness was apparently high: 65.7% of respondents reported that predation ceased after obtaining LGDs, and a further 30.2% reported a decrease of predation. When the number of stock per dog exceeds 100, LGDs might not be able to eliminate all predation. Dogs are often kept free-ranging on large properties where wild dogs are the main predator, but are usually restricted in their movements on smaller properties or with smaller predators. The cost of obtaining a LGD is returned within 13 years after the dog starts working. The number of dogs required for a property mainly depends on the number of livestock needing protection, and the main type of predator in the area. Conclusions Provided a sufficient number of LGDs are used, they can be as effective in protecting livestock from predators in Australia when ranging freely on large properties with large numbers of livestock as they are in small-scale farming systems. Implications LGDs can provide a cost-effective alternative to conventional predator control methods in Australia's extensive grazing enterprises, potentially reducing or eliminating the need for other forms of control. LGDs could play a major role in securing the viability of livestock businesses and reconciling peoplepredator conflict in Australia.
dc.publisherCSIRO Publishing
dc.sourceWildlife Research
dc.subjectKeywords: anthropogenic effect; canid; cohort analysis; farming system; livestock farming; overgrazing; predation risk; wild population; wildlife management; Australia; Canis familiaris; Canis familiaris dingo; Vulpes dingo; human-wildlife conflict; LGD; LPD; predation; predator control; red fox; wild dog; wildlife management
dc.titleGood dog! Using livestock guardian dogs to protect livestock from predators in Australia's extensive grazing systems
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolume39
dc.date.issued2012
local.identifier.absfor050211 - Wildlife and Habitat Management
local.identifier.absfor070205 - Animal Protection (Pests and Pathogens)
local.identifier.ariespublicationf5625xPUB1256
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationVan Bommel, Linda, College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, ANU
local.contributor.affiliationJohnson, Christopher N., University of Tasmania
local.description.embargo2037-12-31
local.bibliographicCitation.issue3
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage220
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage229
local.identifier.doi10.1071/WR11135
local.identifier.absseo960804 - Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
local.identifier.absseo960403 - Control of Animal Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Environments
dc.date.updated2016-02-24T08:41:55Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-84860145641
local.identifier.thomsonID000303124600004
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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