WARNING: DISTURBING CONTENT
A WILD dog that has eluded capture for six years, all the while killing and maiming sheep, has been shot dead on a property west of Scone.
When the news of trapper Jonathan Randle’s success in destroying the legendary dog was shared with landholder Norm Black at Sofia Hill, he cried tears of joy.
Mr Black’s life has been a constant torment since the wild dog moved onto his 2100 acre property back in 2011.
Since his arrival Mr Black, who turns 80 next month, has witnessed the destruction of 500 of his 15 micron, fine wool sheep, worth a conservative $50,000, not including the value of their wool.
“In 2011, I lost 120 60 kilogram wethers thanks to this dog and no matter what we did we couldn’t catch him,” Mr Black said.
“He was so cunning and was always a loner never once did we see him with another dog.
“And he really just stayed on our property mainly on the land I lease from Forestry Corporation – even if he went through other farms he didn’t seem to attack their sheep, only mine and always the older ones.”
For Mr Black the relief that his tormentor is gone is truly unbelievable.
“I am just so happy I can’t thank Jonathan enough for all his work,” he said.
“This dog had made my life a living hell.”
Hunter Local Land Services senior biosecurity officer Richard Ali described the dog as a Hannibal Lecter, referring to the serial killer character made famous in the 1991 Silence of the Lambs movie.
“He was one horrible piece of work. He was a big, strong, wild dog capable of getting the bigger sheep down and surgically removing their kidneys, only their kidneys and then letting them go and the sheep would run off and eventually bleed to death,” Mr Ali said.
“But it took hours for the sheep to die. This is not normally how dogs kill and attack sheep.”
Mr Ali said over the years the baiting increased, both on the ground and aerial, but nothing could stop him.
Many government officers and professionals had a go at trying to get the dog to no avail, he was too smart and out stepped every effort to end him over the years, he said.
Mr Ali praised the work of the local Scone dog trapper Mr Randle who stayed with the effort. He spent endless hours in the bush tracking the dog, howling and setting traps, over six years, with nothing but an odd answer back and a picture here and there on the trail camera.
It is estimated tens of thousands of dollars was spent trying to get the dog who, given his legendary status, will now be taxidermied for a full body mount and his DNA will be examined.
A very pleased Mr Randle said the dog was aged between 8 and 10 years and was getting past his prime but still a real headache for Mr Black, and his wife Noelene.
“It’s the emotional side of seeing your sheep die this way which is even worse than the financial loss,” Mr Randle said.
“I am really happy I got the dog this morning because he was absolutely tormenting the Blacks” he said.
And some good came out of the weekend’s atrocious weather conditions with Mr Randle saying the heat and smoke may have disorientated the dog somewhat.
“You could say I got lucky but I have been watching and tracking him for years so I knew his routines and that’s how I got him,” he said.
Mr Black never had a dog problem on the property he has lived on since 1952, until the arrival of this brute.
“Until he came this was great sheep country and still is if we never have another dog come onto the farm,” he said.
Mr Black will attend a meeting in Scone on Tuesday to discuss funding for a full-time professional wild dog controller for the Upper Hunter.
“We need help now to control wild dogs they just ruin your life on the land when they are attacking your livestock,” said Mr Black.
“Thanks to this one dog I have had to reduce my sheep numbers by half to 1000 head, and many other people have done the same or got out of sheep altogether.
“When you love your sheep this is the last thing you want to do.”