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Abstract

Beef cattle producers in Australia have reported an increase in calf losses as a result of wild dog attacks in recent years. However, while control measures may reduce calf losses from wild dog attacks, they may also reduce attacks on kangaroos. Thus, wild dog control measures may inadvertently increase kangaroo competition with cattle for grazing vegetation, which is potentially costly for graziers. In this study the net returns to beef production from investments in wild dog controls in a case study area—omitting the social and environmental effect of wild dogs—is assessed. The case study area for this study includes the natural resource management district groups of Marla–Oodnadatta and Marree–Innamincka, in the South Australian Arid Lands. A bioeconomic livestock model is developed to estimate the benefits of South Australian wild dog control programs to reduce calf losses. A decision to control wild dogs will depend on the magnitude of the benefits of wild dog management relative to the costs of increased kangaroo competition for grazing vegetation. Results indicate that the decision to implement wild dog control—based solely on the net benefits from beef production—will vary with changes in the rate of increase in calf deaths, the extent of kangaroo competition for grazing vegetation and the net value of livestock.

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