THE first 11-kilometre section of work has been completed in the long-awaited rebuild of the SA Dog Fence.
The first section of the project was completed on Curnamona Station, about 370km north-east of Adelaide, and featured 11km of wire mesh, 15km of lap mesh, 60.5km of wire, 11km of barbed wire, a combination of 2000 steel dropper and drill rod posts, and 250,000 c-clips.
The new fence is 1.5 metres high and has been constructed using steel posts - pine posts will be used in other areas where the substrate soil is particularly saline - and 15/150/15 mesh with a 40 millimetre footing on the outside to discourage any animals digging under the fence.
There will be slight variations to this standard fence to accommodate particular terrains along the route, or in areas where there are additional pressures from other pest animals such as feral camels.
Arrangements for the second stage of the rebuild, including contractors and material supply approvals, are being finalised and construction is expected to begin in August.
The second stage will focus on 115km of fence from Curnamona/Billeroo West corner through to the NSW border.
The project will ultimately see 1600 kilometres of fence upgraded to reduce the number of sheep being killed by wild dogs in the pastoral areas of SA and will have economic benefits of up to $113 million over 20 years.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud today joined Premier Steven Marshall, SA Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone and Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey to mark this milestone of the project, which is being jointly funded by the Federal Government, State Government and industry.
"Commercial sheep production cannot co-exist with wild dogs," Mr Littleproud said.
"Some parts of the SA Dog Fence are more than 100 years old and this historic rebuild will reduce the number of sheep losses in pastoral areas.
"The rebuild will reduce wild dog management costs for pastoralists by up to $97 million and is estimated to increase income from sheep sales by up to $69.7 million over a 20-year period.
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Premier Steven Marshall said the $25 million Dog Fence rebuild would help support regional SA and an industry which has had to deal with the ongoing impacts of drought.
"This will be a big boost for our farmers who will save millions in pest animal management costs and enable farmers to safely restock properties with sheep," he said.
Mr Whetstone said the state government were committed to replacing and rebuilding 1600km of the 2150km of fence in SA.
"We are committed to replacing this ageing fence to ensure its continued effectiveness and support pastoralists from the ongoing threat of wild dogs," he said
"This vital infrastructure is insurance for the industry's future prosperity."
Curnamona Station manager Jeff Pumpa was hopeful the new section of fence would provide some respite from the wild dog problems they've experienced, which have been exacerbated by a prolonged drought.
"The fence that was there previously, because it was 100 years old, it was well past its used-by date and almost a disaster," he said.
"They have done a wonderful job with the new section."
The station runs Merino and Dorper sheep, as well as Poll Hereford cattle, with Mr Pumpa saying over a three-year period a 6000 head flock of Dorper ewes had been decimated to just 400 due to the savage nature of wild dogs.
"They will chase sheep, rip their guts or throats open and leave them alive, but the sheep don't last for long - maybe a day or so," he said.
"The dogs just do it for fun."
Mr Pumpa said the threat of wild dogs had become especially bad in the last five years because of the drought.
"All these wild dogs have moved down chasing food because all of their usual prey, like rabbits, further north have died because of the dry conditions," he said.
"We're still in a serious drought here and I don't think a lot of people realise just how dry it is in the north-east of SA."
Mr Ramsey said the fence rebuild would reap multi-generational benefits across the pastoral industry.
"Many sections have been degraded over the years by kangaroos, emus, feral camels, wild dogs, weather events, sand erosion, rust and corrosion," he said.
"Increasingly the dogs are finding their way further and further south and whether the producers in the south of the state realise it or not, without a good fence eventually all of the sheep in SA are under threat, not just those in the north."
Member for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the Dog Fence rebuild was one of the most significant agriculture projects in SA's history.
"This is a project that regional South Australians have needed for decades," he said.
"The Dog Fence rebuild will help support our agriculture industry, which has been doing it tough recently and this project will not only protect sheep from wild dogs, but it will also drive economic growth."
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