What are wild dogs?
The term wild dog refers to all wild-living dogs, including dingoes, feral domestic dogs and their hybrid descendants that are or have become wild. In NSW wild dogs are a declared pest under the Local Land Services Act (2013) which means landholders have an obligation to control them on their land.
Why are wild dogs a problem in Australia?
Wild dogs can cause damage to livestock and impact on native species. They also can carry disease and parasites which can infect livestock, domestic pets, native wildlife and humans.
Wild dogs are found in many parts of NSW and are very adaptable living successfully in most areas where there is adequate food and water. Their basic diet includes native animals including kangaroos and wombats, rodents, rabbits, birds and reptiles. They are also known to attack livestock and are most active at dawn and dusk.
Wild dogs can be any colour or breed and vary in size depending on breed and the environment they exist in. They are traditionally pack animals so can be found in groups, or by themselves, depending on food availability, with home ranges averaging 4000 ha. Breeding can occur every 9–10 months with gestation being around 63 days and litter size of 4–6 pups being common. Pups are weaned at 6–8 weeks, but can remain with the parent until 6–12 months old.
What you can do to control wild dogs
The two most effective ways to control wild dogs are:
1080 is currently the only poison registered in NSW for the control of wild dogs. 1080 poison is a restricted chemical product and requires users to hold a chemical users certificate. Your local Biosecurity Ranger can assist you to obtain training if you do not currently hold a certificate.
1080 is regulated by a Pesticide Control Order and baiting programs need to be implemented in accordance with the requirements including minimum distances from neighbours, public notification and displaying signage. It is one of the most cost-effective ways of controlling wild dogs and best results are achieved using a coordinated group approach. Your local Biosecurity Ranger can assist you to locate and participate cooperatively with a local wild dog control group.
1080 poison can be distributed in a number of different bait materials including boneless red meat, offal or manufactured baits. Baits are generally placed along vehicle tracks and animal pads as these areas are preferred routes for wild dogs.
Aerial baiting is carried out in some inaccessible areas to support ground baiting programs.
Ground baiting is most effective when carried out strategically and can be done on a small or large scale. Domestic pets, particularly dogs are very susceptible to 1080 poison.
- Is often carried out using modified soft / rubber jawed leg hold traps by experienced persons.
- Is a very effective control option if used correctly to target problem dogs and after coordinated baiting campaign.
Traps should be set by an experienced person to avoid making any mistakes or creating 'trap shy' dogs. Scent
lures can be used to attract wild dogs to the immediate area the trap is set. By law, traps must be checked every
24 hours and any dogs trapped must be euthanised humanely. If traps cannot be checked as required they must be unset.
Other control methods for wild dogs include:
- Opportunistic ground shooting
- Guardian animals
- Fencing (conventional or electric can provide a barrier). A conventional fence is 180cm high with netting.
Signs of wild dogs
It is important that you report all wild dog sightings and attacks as soon as possible to your local Biosecurity Ranger. Look out for the following signs of wild dogs around your property:
- Tracks (not from domestic pets). Tracks are larger and rounder than a fox
- Stock attacks/ deaths and missing stock
- Unsettled domestic pets barking/ growling/ continuous territory marking
Your wild dog control checklist
Consider the following points when planning wild dog control:
- Talk to staff at Hunter LLS for advice and assistance
- Establish a network of neighbours to get as many people involved in order to broaden the area where control can be achieved
- Talk to your neighbours and establish the need for the control e.g. undertaking a control program prior to stock calving
- Work out where the problem may be e.g. observations may suggest animals are moving along the creek line and then along the road
- Consider the size of your property and that of the adjoining landholders
- Determine the most appropriate control method or techniques to be undertaken together with the location, timing and the duration of the program
- If using 1080 baits, notify your neighbours in accordance with the NSW Pesticide Control Order (PCO) by phone, email or in writing. Remind neighbours to restrain or muzzle domestic pets and working dogs. The PCO details can be found at the EPA website:
- Implement the control program - choose suitable weather conditions to undertake the work and monitor the effectiveness of the program
- Make sure you document the control you have undertaken in accordance with the Pesticides Regulation 2009 – date, location, product used etc. For details refer to the EPA website:
Download this page as a factsheet:
What is a wild dog?
A wild dog refers to all wild-living dogs: dingoes, feral domestic dogs and the hybrid descendants of these (all of which are currently considered to be Canis familiaris).
Wild dogs generally operate individually or in a small group, but rarely as a pack. They can be extremely cunning which can make control very difficult. Poisoning with 1080 baits, trapping with soft jaw leg hold traps and shooting are effective control tools particularly when they are part of an integrated control approach. Group control across several holdings will achieve the best results and we encourage landholders to work together to address wild dog issues.
Wild dog activities
We coordinate wild dog management activities throughout the year. The most active times for wild dog control activities are through autumn and spring. Wild dog management is an equal partnership between NSW Government agencies, landholder participation and community groups such as wild dog control groups. All working together, control techniques such as ground and aerial baits, trapping, GPS tracking using collars and monitoring with motion cameras are used frequently and coordinated to ensure the most effective outcome.
Wild dog policy
The 2017-21 NSW Wild Dog Management Strategy was released in October 2017. The overarching aim of the strategy is to reduce the negative impacts of wild dogs within the state.
It outlines an important framework for policy settings, planning, regional oversight, mapping, research and training for quick and effective action and details the roles and responsibilities of Government agencies, industry and the community. The strategy will assist in the development of Regional Pest Animal Management Plans in NSW and how wild dog management will be handled under the new NSW Biosecurity Act.
The 2017-21 strategy supersedes the inaugural strategy that commenced in 2012. It was produced with input from agencies involved in pest animal management, including Department of Primary Industries, Local Land Services, National Parks and Wildlife Service, as well as NSW Farmers’ Association and individual farmers.
Read more and download the 2017-21 NSW Wild Dog Management Strategy.
Wild dog management plans
For more information on how to create a wild dog management plan in your area, speak to your Local Land Services biosecurity officer.
Map wild dogs and other feral pests using your mobile phone
Feral Scan is a free mapping service that you can use to help with feral pest control in your local area.
iphone, Android and iPad users can now access Wild Dog Scan and record wild dog data much more quickly while in the field. This is a valuable addition to Wild Dog Scan and can be used by farmers, NRM groups, wild dog control associations, community groups and local governments. Find out how you can use Feral Scan.