Header: A pregnant wild dog on the Farrelly’s property as captured by a fauna monitoring camera.

The purpose of my visit to Stephen and Penny Farrelly’s Land for Wildlife property in Calvert was to set up a fauna monitoring camera hoping to capture images of fauna using a well-beaten track. However, the day’s events proved to be nothing like I had expected.

Suddenly, stopping at the hand signal of Stephen, I was on alert as he intently watched his dog, Missy. She had heard something just ahead of us in the Lantana thicket. We continued warily along the track, making as little noise as possible. Then, out of nowhere a wild dog pup ran from the well-worn track into the Lantana. Missy ran after it, displaying no aggression as she interrogated the pup who exhibited relentless yapping and howling. This event had triggered the curiosity of other pups, with one showing its face and others rustling about deeper in the Lantana thicket.

I have never been a fence sitter when it comes to wild dog management, but I was completely captivated by the behaviour of the two pups interacting with Missy. Discussions were made regarding the fate of the pups, knowing all too well they had to be ‘managed’, despite their undeniable charm and innocence. As adults, their pack hunting instinct takes over, leaving a destructive trail. Surrounded by a couple of thousand hectares of bush, Stephen and Penny are experienced in wild dog management, with the overall intent to conserve our native wildlife.

A Brush-tailed Phascogale

A Brush-tailed Phascogale (above) captured by a fauna monitoring camera – one of the wildlife species that Stephen and Penny Farrelly (shown below with their dog Missy) are working to protect.

 Stephen and Penny Farrelly

Past experience of Council Pest Management Officers has shown that wild dog parents generally abandoned their den and pups following interactions with other dogs, such as Missy. Knowing that these pups we encountered would likely starve, Stephen and Penny ‘managed’ the pups knowing that this was the most practical and kindest way for all involved.

I would like to congratulate the efforts of Stephen and Penny, and their commitment to wildlife conservation. Missy accomplished an exceptional job at locating the pups and she was probably the most composed of us all.

Article by Stephani Grove Land for Wildlife Officer Ipswich City Council

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