Ongoing battle tests optimism
IT TAKES a lot to test Fiona Shay's optimism: Droughts, flooding rains and erratic sheep prices were issues she accepted as synonymous with rural life.
But what the Thanes Creek grazier found testing "beyond words" was an ongoing battle with wild dogs.
She found it difficult to describe her anxiety each morning as she headed out to assess her flock.
Like so many landholders, we are just struggling against wild dogs on our own and we need help. We just can't do enough to stop them.
"I spend 40% of my time trying to do something about the wild dog problem on my property.
"It's very difficult to explain what it is like to put so much time and energy into trying to control something and still have a major problem."
The local producer ran 2500-3000 head of Dorper cross sheep on her 2940ha property Merriwee, in the Thanes Creek area west of Warwick.
She didn't want to reveal the exact number of sheep she has lost in the six years she has been in the district but confirmed wild dogs had a "significant" impact on the economics of her operation.
The day before our interview, she lost two ewes in lamb in a wild dog attack 500m from her house.
"We don't even want to count the number of sheep we have lost in the past few weeks," Mrs Shay said.
"It's just so distressing.
"The last attack happened just near the house. The wild dog issue is so bad we lock our own dogs up at night."
She said the latest losses exacerbated what she described as an urgent need for assistance from government and other authorities.
"Like so many landholders, we are just struggling against wild dogs on our own and we need help. We just can't do enough to stop them."
Her call for better support included a plea to local government to increase the bounty on wild dogs to provide additional incentive for professional and recreational shooters to join the battle.
"Landholders also need access to subsidised dog traps. We have had some success with them out here so we know that's an effective tool," Mrs Shay said.
"We would also like to see legislation changed so producers like us can store poisons, which are proven to be effective on dogs like 1080 on our properties."
Ultimately, she said producers across the region needed more support to combat a problem that was costing them emotionally as well as financially.