Population of dingos on rise
EACH time John Cooper gets up to walk around his Nymboida property a trail of dingos follows his every step.
And each time he takes them to the river and plays his harmonica, the entire native dog entourage breaks into song.
Over the past two years Mr Cooper, a former Australian boxing champion, has collected about 20 dingo pups from his cattle property beside the Nymboida River.
He loves them and you can see from his interactions with the pups, they don't mind him either.
They are all over him.
But Mr Cooper also knows dingos and beef cattle don't mix, and that is part of the reason he has been collecting the pups ... so they don't grow into adults that will pose a threat to his livestock.
"I got the property in about '95 and wouldn't do anything that would hurt them," he said.
"But I started to lose so many calves.
"Dingos will take down a cow when it is just about to calve and pull the calf from them.
"In the past 10-15 years I have probably lost 100 cows and calves."
So, not wanting to kill the animals but keen to keep his livestock safe, he decided to start catching and raising the pups, then, when they are old enough, giving them to good homes.
On Ramornie Day last year he collected about 10 pups, but many were so young about six died. He still has two of those as pets.
This year he left them until they were about three weeks old and collected about 12 pups from three litters in hollow logs.
And dingo numbers, he said, were increasing rapidly.
"There is nowhere near the baiting there used to be and there was once a bounty on them so people would shoot them and now there a lot in national parks," Mr Cooper said.
"They are becoming prolific. They are every-bloody-where."
He said if treated properly they made great pets and were the most instinctive cattle dogs he had seen.
But he would only muster with one at a time because if there were more they were inclined to hunt.
"They are the smartest canine in the world," he said.
A spokesman for the National Parks and Wildlife Service said there was no evidence dingo and wild dog numbers were increasing in the Nymboida area.
He said trapping figures showed numbers were steady over time.
He said wild dogs, including dingos, were a declared pest in NSW and landholders had a responsibility to control them. National Parks and Wildlife Service also had control programs.