‘Cash is fine but we need dogmen’

FARMERS yesterday welcomed that almost $2 million would be spent controlling wild dogs but said they would closely watch how it was spent.

The extra $1.84 million in yesterday’s budget is on top of $14 million over four years already allocated.

Tallangatta Victorian Farmers Federation president Stuart Morant said the money was pleasing but he wondered how it would be spent.

“I sincerely hope there’s enough money to reinstate the dogmen who have been sadly missing from the local workforce,” he said.

“It was promised at the last election their numbers would be maintained and they haven’t been.

“It’s a real bone of contention.

“We consider them vital to controlling wild dogs.”

Mr Morant said the North East was three hunters short.

The funding comes a month before the launch of an aerial-baiting program in the region, set up by the government after a long farmer campaign.

Mr Morant said while baiting would be a positive move in combating wild dogs, “the bottom line is you must keep the dogmen on the ground”.

Benalla MP Bill Sykes said the significant cash boost would allow the co-ordination of on-ground activity with aerial baiting.

He agreed the number of dogmen was “an ongoing issue” with fewer permanent positions but said contractors and other environmental staff could pick up the slack.

“What it (the funding) means is the government is not impeding the control of wild dogs,” he said.

“We’ve put in the money as well as made the legislative changes.”