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Military tech in feral fight

HEARTBREAK: Jackie Cullen and Kim Costello with a sheep found mauled by a wild dog on the Costello family's Thanes Creek property.
HEARTBREAK: Jackie Cullen and Kim Costello with a sheep found mauled by a wild dog on the Costello family's Thanes Creek property. Linda Mantova

ELUSIVE is a word frequently used by Southern Downs landholders trying to track down wild dogs. Others aren't printable in this family newspaper.

But new technology could make finding troublesome canines in the bush considerably easier according to military specialist Darren Abbott.

Using a body heat sensor also means you are able to detect animals through foliage or scrub, which is a major advantage when it comes to tracking wild dogs at night.

The Toowoomba-based expert believes professional dog trappers and landholders could benefit from adding the latest thermal imaging and night vision gear to their arsenal. He admits the suggestion sounds a little like bringing the US television series CSI to the farm.

"There are already farmers and shooters out there utilising this technology in the battle against wild dogs and they have proved it works," he explained.

"Stock owners in almost every area across the Downs are reporting losses from wild dogs, so it is a widespread and major problem for the rural industry at the moment.

"So, being able to see feral pests, like wild dogs, when they are at their most active, which is often at night, can help balance the scales when it comes to controlling the problem."

Mr Abbott said advances in technology meant farmers could use equipment, like handheld monoculars with thermal imaging capabilities, to pick up body heat from up to a kilometre away.

"This gear can detect a dog 500m away and you can see cattle a kilometre away and easily identify them," he said.

"If you are tracking feral animals, by the time you are within shooting range, which is 200-300m away, you can see the muscles of the animals clearly.

"Using a body heat sensor also means you are able to detect animals through foliage or scrub, which is a major advantage when it comes to tracking wild dogs at night.

"What we are now seeing are professional dog trappers working in pairs: so one uses the thermal imaging device to locate the feral and then directs a shooter, with a night vision scope, to the site."

But he said the technology wasn't limited to hunting on farms. Mr Abbott said the equipment could also be used by stock owners as non-invasive monitoring of the condition or movement of calving cows and mares about to foal.

Night vision equipment, thermal imaging gear, adaptors to turn ordinary rifle scopes into night vision scopes, game cameras and hunting supplies will feature at a special trade day at Southern Cross Militaria in Diagonal St, Toowoomba on November 30, 1-9pm.

"We really wanted to showcase the latest technology and by having a display that runs into the night, people can see for themselves what equipment like night vision goggles and thermal imaging can do," Mr Abbott said.

Topics:  biosecurity farm products feral animals wild dogs