Growing packs of wild dogs are endangering Australia’s wool industry, leading desperate farmers to resort to unusual methods—like deploying donkeys as bodyguards—to protect dwindling livestock flocks.
Elsewhere in the country, lawmakers have placed bounties on dogs as part of a struggle to contain a problem wool-industry leaders say is reaching crisis levels.
Bruce Lines, a livestock trader from Queensland state in eastern Australia, last year rounded up more than 100 feral donkeys roaming the deserts of the Northern Territory and sold them to farmers in need.
Donkeys, along with alpacas and maremma sheepdogs, have long been used in other countries to protect livestock from predators like wolves and coyotes, but are rarely deployed in Australia.
Donkeys, renowned for their protective instincts, typically attack wild dogs and scare them away once the donkeys have been embedded in flocks and bonded with the sheep.
“You don’t have to teach them to hate canines. It’s innate. It’s in them,” said Andrew Martin, a fourth-generation farmer in Tambo, Queensland.