A STUDY to assess cattle movements and behaviour in relation to wild dog activity is underway in the Western Australian rangelands.
The research will quantify predation events between cattle and wild dogs, and assess the productivity of cattle on properties with varying wild dog densities.
West Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Invasive Species Research Scientist Dr Tracey Kreplins is using Ceres Tag smart technology eartags in cattle and radio tracking collars on wild dogs to track their movements across several properties.
“This information will inform us how far the animals move and how the predator and prey use the same land systems,” Dr Kreplins said.
“Fleming et al. (2001, 2021) highlighted significant knowledge gaps in terms of the impacts of wild dogs on cattle production.
“We will address these priority research questions around wild dogs and cattle and aim to close the knowledge gap on wild dog impacts on cattle production in Western Australia.”
The behaviours monitored include time spent drinking at water points (i.e. are the cattle drinking less when wild dogs are in the area and how does this change when they have calves?)
The time spent grazing by the cattle in relation to wild dog activity and wild dog predation events in relation to cattle movements will be assessed.
The time spent running, walking and resting by both predator and prey in proximity to one another will be monitored, along with changes in daily distances travelled (i.e. are cattle more stressed and/or active when wild dogs are close by?).
The research is an initiative under the WA Government’s $13.4 million Wild Dog Action Plan 2021-2025 to complement existing control techniques.
Source: National Wild Dog Action Plan. For further reading on research into the impacts of wild dogs on cattle click here