Forum tackles feral dogs

RESIDENT concern about the wild dog population in the Clarence Valley was on display at a forum on Wednesday night at the South Services club in Grafton.

The forum was planned to bring Local Land Services and NSW election candidates together to discuss the growing problem that wild dogs were posing to landowners.

However, a decision by the LLS and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis to pull out of the meeting raised the ire of many in attendance, with local trapper Bill Crisp sharing the frustration of the group.

"There were a lot of positives which came out of a great discussion and the key players who are paid to be involved chose to not be part of it," he said.

"We had a complete failure of LLS to engage with the public, but full credit to all the other candidates for fronting up and putting forward their ideas."

Mr Gulaptis said that the format for the evening had changed significantly and that he had another engagement which took precedence.

"I was told it would be an information session initially and it then changed to a meet the candidates forum, around a single issue" he said

"I am no expert on the issue and I thought it was best left to those who know it best."

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Steve Cansdell enjoyed the forum and said it helped shore up his view that diversifying eradication methods was the way forward.

"There is clearly a lot of concern about the issue in the Clarence and it reinforced our position on bounties for wild dogs and foxes," he said

"Baiting is nothing more than a cost-cutting exercise and while trapping is more expensive, it's more effective."

He also was critical of the absentees, saying that regardless of their views, it was important to engage the community.

"If the local member can't face the concerns that people have with the current program being undertaken by the LLS, then he should not be in the job."

Greens candidate Greg Clancy also recognised the problems that wild dogs posed and was particularly concerned about the dwindling dingo population on the North Coast.

"I put forward a strong case for protecting dingoes and fully controlling the feral dog population," he said

"I recognise sometimes we can't be sure of their purity without a DNA test, but we need more research."

Mr Cansdell also appreciated the importance of protecting the dingo, especially given its significance to some indigenous people on the North Coast, and said any bounty system should recognise this.

"If we incorporate trapping as a method of eradication, it would be possible to test dogs to find out whether they are in fact more dingo than wild dog," he said.

"Dingoes in many cases need to be released - trapping can do that but baiting does not discriminate

"Any bounty system that was legislated could reflect this. We would make trappers and farmers aware that they wouldn't get any money if they got a dingo."

Local Land Services were unable to be contacted for comment.

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