Making an Ass of Wild Dogs

Using wild donkeys as a tool too control wild dogs

Making an Ass of Wild Dogs

Using wild donkeys as a tool too control wild dogs

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The issue

Wild dogs have become an increasingly prevalent issue across the Western region with some landholders losing astonishing numbers of livestock. Ben and Liarne Mannix of Gumbooka, a property 65 km North West of Bourke, are no strangers to the issue. Over the last decade the Mannix family has felt the impact of wild dogs through loss of stock and income, but also the stress and strain it has placed on them as individuals and as a family.

The solution

Ben and Liarne Mannix have been engaging with a range of wild dog control methods including the use of; camera monitoring, trapping, fencing, baiting, hunting and even howling.  Since 2007 they have also been instrumental in facilitating a pest control group in the Ledknapper region aimed at a collaborative approach to baiting, which ensures coverage of a much wider area of land. Although this variety of methods has been effective in controlling wild dogs to some extent, adding another tool to the box was not a difficult question for the Mannix’s. Having heard of the successes that others were having by using donkeys to control dogs the Mannix’s decided to try it, purchasing 16 donkeys over the last few years.

The impact

The use of donkeys for wild dog control is still in the trial phase for the Mannix’s however thus far results are promising.  The Mannix’s discovered during lamb marking that the paddock the donkeys were in had a 140% lambing rate compared to the paddock next to the donkeys producing a 120% lambing rate, whilst the lambing rate in a paddock that was inaccessible to the donkeys was only at 100%. Although these figures cannot solely be attributed to the use of donkeys,  the sheer fact that they have lost less lambs since introducing donkeys to their multifaceted wild dog control program is an encouraging result.

Key facts

  • There is evidence that donkeys are seeking out areas were wild dogs have been. The Mannix’s have monitored donkeys moving as far as 6km in the direction of howling dogs.
  • There was a 40% difference in lambing rates between paddocks where donkeys were and weren’t.