A leading farmers group has bit back at a proposal to reintroduce dingoes into the Grampians National Park and say the risks to nearby livestock and already threatened fauna are far too great.
The Victorian Farmers Federation livestock councillor Peter Star said while the group respected the cultural views and values of the traditional land owners, reintroducing dingoes without a robust plan to protect local communities, livestock and vulnerable native species from attack would end in disaster.
"Wild dogs cost the Victorian livestock industry about $18 million every year and there are many farmers around the Wartook and Victoria Valleys who are deeply concerned this proposal is aspirational, rather than practical," he said.
Mr Star said radio-collaring research in similar terrain had shown dingoes and wild dogs were highly mobile and could regularly roam over 60 square kilometres from bushland into farming properties.
"We need to know exactly how the dingoes would be kept within the Grampians National Park," he said.
"If that solution is a fence, how secure will it be, who will patrol it and who's going to pay for it? Farmers must not be forced to bear this added cost."
While Biodiversity 2037 has an aspirational aim of introduction of dingoes, it also strongly states that pest plants and animals are a key threat to biodiversity and threatened species.
The VFF has called for the state government to properly fund pest plant and animal programs on crown land, and resource authorities to coordinate programs that cost the economy a billion-dollars per annum and are a key threat to biodiversity.
National Wild Dog Management Coordinator Greg Mifsud said that the introducing dingo hybrids (wild dogs) to protect native fauna of the Grampians was ill-conceived.
"Dietary studies show that dingoes and wild dogs are generalist predators preying predominantly on small wallabies and medium sized animals and will only increase the risk of predation the endangered brush-tailed rock wallaby and other medium-sized marsupials."
Mr Mifsud explained that predation by dingoes and wild dogs had been the cause of numerous failed native species reintroduction programs around Australia.
He said the addition of another generalist predator, the dingo, in addition to foxes and feral cats would compound the predation pressure on existing native animals and those planned to be re-introduced including quoll, bandicoots and bettongs.
"Dingoes have been assessed similar to foxes and cats in that they are a recognised, high-risk threat to many vulnerable and endangered species," he said.
Mr Mifsud was not only extremely concerned about the impact that dingo hybrids would have on sheep properties adjoining the Grampians National Park, but also for sheep producers across the state.
"Dingoes are highly mobile, and we know from research they will not stay within the confines of the park. If they do escape, they could spread across the state using uncleared forest on private and public lands coming from the Grampians with devastating impacts for livestock producers across the region and the state," he said.
The proposal is open for public comment until Sunday, January 24, at https://engage.vic.gov.au/gariwerd-management-plan
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.