Hunter Local Land Services is assisting Manning Great Lakes landholders to learn how to trap wild dogs, in a bid to help them better protect native animals and livestock on their properties.
The trapping schools not only cover the art of setting and disguising soft jaw traps, but also deals with wild dog behaviour and recognising signs of wild dog activity.
If a native animal or non-target species is trapped, the traps are designed to hold them, so they can be released with no significant injuries.
Lyn Moylan is a wildlife carer who recently who took part in a school at Yarratt State Forest and Goonook National Park that saw five wild dogs removed from these areas.
She said after 30 years neighbouring dense bushland she has seen an increase in wild dog movements, and wanted to learn about how she could do more to control their activity on her property.
"I know wild dogs come through here and I worry about the balance of nature, I know they can cause considerable damage to livestock, but on my property I am more worried about the animals I care for such as red neck wallabies, kangaroos, possums, sugar gliders and native birds," Lyn said.
"Wild dogs are a threat to these animals I help rehabilitate, and I know I need to control them in order to maintain balance and provide a safe habitat.
"I know coordinated programs are the best way to reduce dog impacts and that includes baiting and trapping, and I look at what I know about our environment now and encourage everyone to do their bit, every landholder who gets involved is making it better."
Lyn said while she was initially unsure if she would be physically capable of setting traps, she now feels confident and has been looking for dog sign and setting traps in potential hotspots on her property.
"I was so touched by the breadth of experience of the expert trappers, who were incredibly willing to share their knowledge and skills with us, it was a really valuable learning experience that I thoroughly enjoyed, it was really brilliant," Lyn said.
"I am now putting those lessons into practice and while I haven't caught a wild dog yet, I am learning every time and getting better at it, and I am very grateful for the support of my local biosecurity officers Kirstin Bisley and Laurie Mullen, encouraging me along the way."
Brian Ede also attended the recent trapping school. Brian is a Bulahdelah real estate agent and farmer, who is passionate about reducing wild dog activity.
"I cannot speak highly enough about the work of Hunter LLS and the trappers, putting these schools on for local landholders," Brian said.
"The instructors were first class, I probably had an idea about setting a trap, but after doing the course I learned how to make it unrecognisable - and their advice was so good we were setting traps even they couldn't find in the end!
I probably had an idea about setting a trap, but after doing the course I learned how to make it unrecognisableBrian Ede of Bulahdelah
"A course like this makes you aware of what to look for and how to report dog activity. I didn't know what I was looking for before, but now I see so much dog sign and know what to do."
Brian encourages new landholders, especially people who might be new to farming or land management, to sign up to a trapping school, so they understand their biosecurity obligations and what to do.
"In my business I see a lot of people wanting to move to the land, and here on the coast a lot of people started introducing sheep and goats and other small pets, and they were devastated to be losing them to wild dogs," Brian said.
"As a district, we have worked really hard over the last few years to control more than 500 dogs in this area and now we are seeing the benefits of working together strategically.
"These trapping schools are a valuable investment in our community by Hunter LLS and we need to ensure it is maintained as it shows the government is keen to work with us to reduce this problem, so we can limit the impacts on our livestock and threatened species."
If you are interested in undertaking a trapping school, contact Hunter LLS Biosecurity Team by calling 1300 795 299.
Wild dog activity can be reported to Hunter LLS Biosecurity officers or by visiting FeralScan at www.feralscan.org.au.