The Northern Mallee Declared Species Group (NMSDG) was formed at Salmon Gums in 1994 following a spike in wild dog attacks on sheep around Esperance and Munglinup. At the time, several farmers were resorting to ‘doggers’ or licensed shooters for a quick fix but they soon recognised that the problem was wide spread and required greater coordination and funding.
The group began to lobby government agencies for more support and secured funding for two full-time doggers. At the same time, it sought a more permanent solution to the problem of wild dog attacks and considered the idea of extending the State Barrier Fence. By 2007, the group had gained a direct link to the State Barrier Fence Committee and the State Wild Dog committee when Cascades farmer and NMDSG member Scott Pickering took up a position on these boards. An added benefit of the fence extension was its ability to control the movement of emu flocks, which were impacting on properties bordering unallocated crown land.
In 2009, the NMDSG began the process of incorporation and in April of 2010 it held its inaugural Annual General Meeting. Almost 100 members signed up in the first year with several corporate members and sponsors among them. The NMDSG now employs a part time administrator and two full-time doggers, as well as hosting information days for landholders and distributing newsletters.
The innovative group has also sought other solutions to the wild dog problem, in particular the trialling of white Maremma guard dogs. The breed originated in central Italy and has been used for centuries by shepherds to guard sheep from wolves. The NMDSG has recently taken delivery of six more dogs, donated by the Australian Dingo Conservation Association, and these have been distributed to members.
Since the 2010 announcement by the State Government to provide funding to the NMDSG for fence materials, the group has been focused on raising the necessary funds to complete the State Barrier Fence extension.