Environmental issues

Pests and weeds

Wild dogs

Wild dog refers to any dog living in the wild, including feral dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), dingoes (Canis dingo), and hybrids of the two.

Wild dogs can have significant impacts on livestock, especially sheep. As a result, they have been declared a pest under the Rural Lands Protection Act 1998. Under the Act, managers of controlled land have an obligation to eradicate wild dogs by any lawful method. All land in NSW is identified as controlled land under the current Pest Control Order for Wild Dogs.

Wild dogs can also have both positive and negative impacts on the environment. Predation by wild dogs can reduce the impacts of overgrazing in arid and semi-arid ecosystems by regulating the abundance of native and exotic herbivores. Wild dogs may also suppress the abundance of cats and foxes, thereby reducing the threat these introduced predators pose to a broad range of small to medium-sized ground-dwelling mammals and ground-nesting birds. Conversely, under some circumstances, predation by wild dogs may have significant direct impacts on threatened species such as koalas.

Status of dingoes in NSW

Dingoes were introduced into Australia from Asia by humans around 4000 years ago. They established across the mainland and on many offshore islands, probably assisted by Aboriginal people. Their introduction has been linked to the extinction of the thylacine and the Tasmanian devil on the mainland.

Irrespective of its origin, the dingo may be considered for listing as a threatened species under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC Act) as it was established in NSW prior to European settlement. Nominations to list the dingo as a threatened species and to list specific populations of the dingo under the TSC Act have been received by the NSW Scientific Committee, but no determinations have been made to date. However, ‘Predation and hybridisation by feral dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)’ has been listed as a key threatening process under the Act.

The current status of dingo populations in NSW is uncertain. Previously widespread, they now appear to be largely restricted to the Great Dividing Range, coastal hinterlands and the north-west of the state. Ongoing hybridisation with feral dogs poses the most significant threat to their persistence in these areas, to the extent that the proportion of pure dingoes in remaining populations is unclear. Wild dog control and loss of habitat also pose a threat to dingo populations.

Schedule 2 of the Pest Control Order for Wild Dogs

To balance the need to control wild dogs with the conservation of dingoes, the Pest Control Order for Wild Dogs allows the general destruction obligation for lands listed under Schedule 2 of the Order to be satisfied through the preparation of a wild dog management plan with both control and conservation objectives. Schedule 2 lists 74 national parks, 28 nature reserves, 7 state conservation areas, 144 state forests, 4 Crown land reserves and the Sydney Catchment Authority Special Area.
Map of NSW highlighting Schedule 2 National Parks, Other parks and reserves, Schedule 2 State Forests, Other State Forests

Schedule 2 of the Pest Control Order for Wild Dogs (2009) lists 144 State Forests, 74 National Parks, 28 Nature Reserves, 7 State Conservation Areas, 4 Crown land reserves and the Sydney Catchment Authority Special Area.

OEH wild dog management programs

OEH undertakes wild dog management programs in many national parks and reserves along the coast, Great Diving Range, Northern, Central and Southern Tablelands and in the far north-west of the state. The main objective of these programs is to minimise the impacts of wild dogs emanating from parks and reserves on livestock on adjoining lands while conserving dingo populations within reserves listed in Schedule 2 (see Wild Dog Policy). In practice, this is achieved by targeting control around the perimeter of Schedule 2 lands wherever possible. Management programs may also be undertaken to minimise the impacts of wild dogs on threatened species and to reduce the risks that wild dogs pose to park visitors and staff.

OEH works closely with wild dog associations, other public-land managers and park neighbours to deliver cooperative control programs across tenure. This includes in the development and implementation of wild dog management plans for reserves listed under Schedule 2.

Wild dog management in 2010/11

In 2010–11, OEH undertook wild dog programs in at least 338 national parks and reserves, including 89 of the 109 reserves listed under Schedule 2.

A report on wild dog management in 2010-11 (PDF 165KB) has been prepared.


OEH undertakes applied research and field trials to build knowledge and test and refine control techniques for wild dogs. Research conducted in northern and southern NSW on the impacts of aerial baiting with 1080 poison on spotted-tailed quolls found that aerial baiting had little impact on the quoll populations studied. As a result of these findings, OEH now uses aerial baiting as an additional control technique where ground access is limited. Research on additional control tools such as the M44 ejector, synthetic lures and use of remote cameras for monitoring continue to enhance the capabilities of existing wild dog control programs.

OEH is also an active participant in the Invasive Animal Cooperative Research Centre demonstration project integrated canid management which aims to deliver strategic management of wild dogs and foxes in north-east NSW through across-tenure management plans supported by monitoring and research.


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Page last updated: 19 October 2015