Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.
Formerly a rural problem, wild packs are spreading disease and killing pets.
Roaming like hungry street gangs, packs of feral dogs are increasingly showing up in urbanized Australia. Various news reports out of the country's eastern coast say that packs of wild and sometimes vicious canines are finding their way into suburbs and cities.
Packs of wild dogs and dingoes have long been a problem in Australia, especially in rural areas where farmers have found packs devouring cattle. But with a booming population, the dogs are moving into new territory.
The interface between wild dog and suburb has been uneasy. Wild dogs "are coming right to the edges of suburbia now and right up to people's houses," cattle farmer Len Maroske told the Herald Sun. "Recently I shot two wild dogs while leaning out a bedroom window."
The dog packs are blamed for about $70 million in damages to Australia's livestock industry every year. Some worry that this scale of impact could come to eastern Australia's more urbanized areas, especially throughout the state of Queensland.
According to this article from the Courier-Mail, domesticated pets are already becoming victims of the roving dogs. Some worry that a human casualty is only a matter of time.
Another concern is the diseases these animal carry. Dingo feces has been linked to a deadly cystic parasite that's become more common in suburban areas in recent years. "Dingo poo," one researcher observes, "is not good stuff."
But Australian officials aren't just waiting for the problem to get worse. Various municipalities already have dog-baiting programs aimed at culling the feral population. Some have even instituted bounties on the dogs. The city of Sun Coast, just to the north of Brisbane, is taking a proactive approach to the problem, announcing earlier this summer the hiring of a "wild dog destruction officer."
John McVeigh, Australia's Agriculture Minister, says the new position will be a crucial tool to prevent the problem from spreading. "Wild dogs," he says, "are out of control right across the state."
Photo credit: Reuters