Farmers call for trapper’s return

CALLS are intensifying for the North West Local Land Services (LLS) to reinstate a specialist wild dog trapper in the region.

Under the old Livestock Pest and Health Authority model, reserve worker Brad Gallagher was a prize asset for local sheep farmers being plagued by dog attacks on stock.

Since the formation of the LLS, Mr Gallagher has been removed from dog-trapping duties, sparking a backlash from the region’s sheep farmers.

An LLS spokeswoman last week denied Mr Gallagher’s redeployment had left farmers more vulnerable to sheep attacks.

But farmers have scoffed at suggestions they are receiving the same level of service, saying the loss of Mr Gallagher had left them vulnerable to wholesale stock losses.

Kelvin sheep farmer Ben Swain lost close to 150 sheep in 2012 from wild dog attacks and he said the losses would be continuing if not for Mr Gallagher’s expertise.

“We lost 10 per cent of our flock over six months and we tried to bait, but the dogs wouldn’t take it,” Mr Swain said.

“We had Brad coming out here for months and eventually he got the dog. It just wouldn’t have happened without him.

“These dogs are so feral and so cunning, you can’t get anywhere near them to shoot them.

“It’s just ridiculous that they could even contemplate taking Brad off.”

Mr Swain was so impressed by Mr Gallagher’s service, he wrote a letter to the LHPA board thanking them for the “irreplaceable” service.

Hanging Rock farmer and member of the National Wild Dog Committee Bruce Moore said it was “short-sighted” of the LLS to remove its most effective weapon against dog attacks.

“We are already greatly under-serviced in skilled trappers in this region and there are a lot of dogs you can’t get without trapping,” Mr Moore said.

“It just seems very short-sighted to remove Brad.”

Woolomin farmer Richard Bird agreed, saying the decision smacked of penny-pinching.

“It’s far too big an area for just one officer to look after,” Mr Bird said.

“I don’t know if it’s a funding issue, but it just doesn’t seem right.

“We pay our rates, but it seems our services are just eroding.”

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