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Spatially-explicit modelling model for assessing wild dog control strategies in Western Australia
Pacioni, C., M. Kennedy, O. Berry, D. Stephens, AND N. Schumaker. Spatially-explicit modelling model for assessing wild dog control strategies in Western Australia. ECOLOGICAL MODELLING. Elsevier Science BV, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 368:246-256, (2018).
In practice, protecting the environment means finding a balance between the need for resources, on the short term, and the need for sustainability, at longer time scales. Researchers from many scientific disciplines contribute to such decision making processes by developing quantitative analyses of the short- and long-term ecological consequences of human activities. The analysis presented in this manuscript is a case-in-point, addressing a particularly difficult system in which the needs of a ranching industry are driving political decision making, and thus policy, in Western Australia. Our study uses a computer simulation model to examine the efficacy of various policy options available to the Australian public. We find that the spatial extent and growth rates of the Western Australian wild dog populations are sufficient that the ranching industry has little hope of successfully imposing their target levels of control over this dynamic system.
Large predators can significantly impact livestock industries. In Australia, wild dogs (Canis lupus familiaris, Canis lupus dingo, and hybrids) cause economic losses of more than AUD $40M annually. Landscape-scale exclusion fencing coupled with lethal techniques is a widely practiced control method. In Western Australia, the State Barrier Fence encompasses approximately 260,000 km2 of predominantly agricultural land, but its effectiveness in preventing wild dogs from entering the agricultural region is difficult to evaluate. We conducted a management strategy evaluation (MSE) based on spatially-explicit population models to forecast the effects of upgrades to the Western Australian State Barrier Fence and several control scenarios varying in intensity and spatial extent on wild dog populations in southwest Western Australia. Results indicate that self-sustaining populations of wild dogs are present on both sides of the State Barrier Fence and current control practices are not sufficient to effectively reduce their abundance in the agricultural region. Only when a combination of control techniques are applied on a large scale, intensively and continuously are wild dog numbers effectively controlled. Synthesis and applications. This study identifies the requirement for addressing extant populations of predators within fenced areas to meet the objective of preventing wild dog expansion. This objective is only achieved when control is applied to the whole area where wild dogs are currently present within the fence plus an additional buffer of ~20 km. Our modelling focused on the use of baiting, trapping and shooting; however we acknowledge that additional tools may also be applied. Finally, we recommend that a cost-benefit analysis be performed to evaluate the economic viability of an integrated control strategy.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY
WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION
ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS BRANCH