What is the State Barrier Fence?
The State Barrier Fence (SBF) was built in the early part of the 20th century to protect Western Australia from the western migration of the rabbit. Whilst the fence failed to keep the rabbit out of the state, the SBF did prove in later years to be an effective barrier against migrating emus. Today the SBF spans 1,170 kilometres from the Zuytdorp Cliffs north of Kalbarri to Jerdacuttup east of Ravensthorpe. It is maintained by the Agriculture Protection Board (APB) and the WA Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA).
Why should we extend the fence?
The extension of the State Barrier Fence is an effective, long-term solution to the wild dog and emu plague in Western Australia. It will provide a natural system outside of the fence where species can interact without the presence of crops and sheep, as well as provide a sustainable environment inside for primary production.
Over the past 20 years, an increased incidence of wild dog activity has been reported adjacent to the SBF from Lake Moore in the Mt Marshall shire, to Ravensthorpe and eastwards through the Esperance Shire. The engagement of doggers has helped to prevent wild dog attacks on livestock but has not addressed the emu plague problem and will not provide the level of control that the fence will.
Once established, the fence would provide a non-lethal barrier to emus, kangaroos and dogs between the farming communities and unallocated crown land to the North.
Additional benefits include the maintenance of a firebreak along the fence line as well as an injection of additional revenue to the local economy during the surveying and construction of the fence.
What impact do wild dogs and emus have on agriculture?
Dogs impact heavily on the livestock industry by maiming and killing approximately 4,000 animals every year in the Ravensthorpe and Esperance areas. These often gruesome stock deaths place excessive economic and emotional burdens on rural families. Emu plagues cause massive crop and pasture damage and reduce yields by up to 75% depending on densities. This also impacts on the local economy as a whole.
Will the fence impact on other animals?
Smaller native reptiles and mammals can still move freely through the fence. The WA Department of Environment and Conservation suggests there is little adverse impact on non-target native species. None of the larger terrestrial species in the region are migratory.