Unique skill to aid wild dog fight

DAVID Hetherington has an unusual past time. For the past 20 years, this former beef producer turned jeweller has honed his skills as a wild dog caller.

Mr Hetherington, who attracts wild dogs so they can be culled by imitating their howling or making the sound of wounded animals, said there was a growing need for his skills with increasing numbers of hybrid wild dogs in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

Now Mr Hetherington will share his knowledge with the region as one of the speakers at the AgForce/Blueprint for the Bush predator control day in Greymare on August 4, where producers will learn practical wild dog control measures.

“I started calling to wild dogs when I was a child - I heard a wild dog calling in the bush and when I imitated the sound, two dogs came running. Although my father thought it was just an oddity at the time, I have continued,” he explained.

“Attracting the wild dogs by calling allows these problem predators to be eliminated.”

Although Mr Hetherington spends his weekdays working in his Gympie jewellery store, the high level of valuable stud stock being lost to wild dogs around Gympie has prompted a growing demand for his skills as a caller on nights and weekends.

“The destruction caused by wild dogs has heightened recently with growing numbers of large packs - a few months ago a producer north of Gympie saw a pack of 32 wild dogs,” Mr Hetherington said.

“These dogs, which were once akin to pure dingos, are now so hybridised that they have taken on the characteristics of their domestic breeding.

“We are seeing 30-40kg wild dogs that look like German Shepherds and Rottweilers, and like normal domestic dogs these wild dogs have two litters a year compared to a dingo which only has one a year, which is contributing to the population explosion.”

RSVP by today to Lauren Hewitt on hewittl@agforceqld.org.au or on 3236 3100.

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