Frequently Asked Questions
What is the State Barrier Fence?
The State Barrier Fence (SBF) was built in the early part of the 20th century to protect Western Australia from the western migration of the rabbit. Whilst the fence failed to keep the rabbit out of the state, the SBF did prove in later years to be an effective barrier against migrating emus. Today the SBF spans 1,170 kilometres from the Zuytdorp Cliffs north of Kalbarri to Jerdacuttup east of Ravensthorpe. It is maintained by the Agriculture Protection Board (APB) and the WA Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA).
Why should we extend the fence?
The extension of the State Barrier Fence is an effective, long-term solution to the wild dog and emu plague in Western Australia. It will provide a natural system outside of the fence where species can interact without the presence of crops and sheep, as well as provide a sustainable environment inside for primary production.
Over the past 20 years, an increased incidence of wild dog activity has been reported adjacent to the SBF from Lake Moore in the Mt Marshall shire, to Ravensthorpe and eastwards through the Esperance Shire. The engagement of doggers has helped to prevent wild dog attacks on livestock but has not addressed the emu plague problem and will not provide the level of control that the fence will.
This has compelled farmers to investigate the potential of upgrading the SBF to a 500km wide dog fence that would keep both wild dogs and emus out of the agricultural region. This would be achieved by upgrading the existing SBF to a wild dog standard fence, as well as enclosing the two existing gaps in the SBF. One gap is in the Yilgarn shire and the other encompasses the Esperance shire. Once established, the fence would provide a non-lethal barrier to emus, kangaroos and dogs between the farming communities and unallocated crown land to the North.
Additional benefits include the maintenance of a firebreak along the fence line as well as an injection of additional revenue to the local economy during the surveying and construction of the fence.
What impact do wild dogs and emus have on agriculture?
Dogs impact heavily on the livestock industry by maiming and killing approximately 4,000 animals every year in the Ravensthorpe and Esperance areas. These often gruesome stock deaths place excessive economic and emotional burdens on rural families. Emu plagues cause massive crop and pasture damage and reduce yields by up to 75% depending on densities. This also impacts on the local economy as a whole.
How much will the fence extension cost?
It is estimated to cost $10.5 million (excluding GST) to build, including materials, surveys, construction and contingencies. An amount of $3.5 million in Royalties for Regions funding has been secured for materials for the Esperance fence extension.
A cost-benefit analysis compiled by independent consultancy URS indicated that $2 would be gained for every $1 spent on the construction and maintenance of the fence.
It is estimated that $3 million will be saved per year from the impacts of wild dog and emu plagues once the fence extension is completed. Additional savings will be made by the local economy from increased yields to cropping and livestock production.
How long will it take to build?
The construction of the fence is expected to be completed in mid-2016.
Will the fence impact on other animals?
Smaller native reptiles and mammals can still move freely through the fence. The WA Department of Environment and Conservation suggests there is little adverse impact on non-target native species. None of the larger terrestrial species in the region are migratory.
How will the community be levied?
The community has voted in favour of supporting the raising of $1.76m over a twenty year period via the Specified Area Rate. It is intended that a self-supporting loan will be raised by the Shire of Esperance to cover a portion of the cost of construction of the fence (the Esperance leg). The loan will be repaid through the raising of a levy, set as a Specified Area Rate across all unimproved value rated properties within the shire. The amount each rate assessment will contribute to the loan repayment is determined by the valuation of each property. The total repayment amount once set will not change, subject to the interest rate being fixed.
What do the supporters say?
WA Farmers letter of support here
SEPWA letter of support here
PGA letter of support here
Invasive Animals CRC letter of support here