Sheepdogs trialled to combat dingoes on mines

Following on from the recent movie Oddball, Western Australia’s Pilbara region is trialling the use of maremma dogs to keep dingoes away from mining operations.

The three-month trial was done at the Birla Nifty copper mine as environmental officers identified the dogs deter dingoes, lessening negative contact between humans.

According to the ABC, Michael Robinson, Aditya Birla Minerals environmental manager, said some of the dingoes no longer naturally evaded humans.

“Dingoes generally are pretty elusive animals, if you see a native dingo you would generally see it popping up a few meters away and then it would run away,” he said.

“They are basically drawn to the remote mine sites, so they can breed into larger packs than you would normally see out in the desert.

“We’ve had incidents of dingoes chasing people and on another mine site people have been bitten and workers have been bailed up and a lot of the time people are just afraid of dogs.”

He added that small packs of them are able to open doors and get inside break rooms.

Robinson used a Perth maremma dog named Indie for the trail and on her first release she chased three dingoes for approximately 200 meters.

Maremmas are an Italian breed of sheepdog traditionally used to protect sheep from wolves. These livestock guardian dogs often live with their flocks and create a bond with them.

Robinson said maremmas specifically bred for mining operations would be better as Indie began to get tried of chasing dingoes and had trouble with her hip after one month.