WA dog fence expanded
After decades of campaigning, a new wild dog fence is being built in WA.
Work has started on a 660-kilometre extension of an existing 1,170km dog barrier fence currently running from near Kalbarri in the state's north down to Ravensthorpe.
After almost 20 years of lobbying for money for the fence and a number of environmental hurdles, the first post of the $11 million fence has been driven into the ground.
Farmers in the regions of Cascade, Esperance and Salmon Gums says the existing 1,190km barrier fence does not protect sheep.
Farmers in the Esperance shire alone say they lost 3,000 sheep in a single year to wild dogs.
After pushing for the new fence since the 1990s, a breakthrough came around 18 months ago when two local shires pledged support.
The Esperance Shire contributed $1.5 million in kind for grid construction, and the Ravensthorpe Shire put up $280,000.
The fence is owned and managed by the State Government, which provided $6.9 million in Royalties for Regions funding toward the fence extension.
The Federal Government chipped in $1.955 million.
The farmer-funded initiative Australian Wool Innovation offered to provide access to fencing machinery.
WA's state barrier fence was originally built in 1902 to stop rabbits moving across from the east.
It now plays a role in preventing wild dogs and emus from the rangelands getting into the agricultural region of WA.
The plans for the new fence had to be altered several times to avoid risks to a threatened underground orchid habitat near the Oldfield River and protected Kwongan shrubland.
The fence will also feature fluorescent orange fence posts every 7 metres so that wildlife can see it more easily.
The coloured fence posts will be doubled near the habitat of the rare Western ground parrot.
Western Australian Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the new fence could give the region an economic boost.
“We need to ensure we make this area viable for sheep production and we understand an important part of that is protecting it from wild dogs,” she said.
WA's Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is overseeing the fence build, but Department staff will train Esperance Tjaltjraak Aboriginal Rangers in fencing to cover much of the work.
Ms MacTienann said up-skilling the local Indigenous workers would help prepare them for future government contracting.