EMOTIONAL TOLL: Beau Heilbronn, 7.
EMOTIONAL TOLL: Beau Heilbronn, 7. Contributed

Family's sheep killed in feral dog attack

FERAL dogs are on the rise in Agnes Water, and the Helibronn family is the latest to bear the toll of a mass loss of stock.

Twelve sheep were killed in a dog attack on their property; six in the paddock, five were herded into a dam, and another died days later because of its injuries.

On top of the sheer financial burden, the attack has taken an emotional toll on her son, Beau.

The seven-year-old named each of the sheep and would hand feed them every morning.

Private dog catcher Wayne Rodgers said he had seen an increase in feral dogs in the area recently.

"That's been the most heartbreaking thing to have to explain it all to him," Mrs Helibronn said.

"He's distraught.

"He just asked me why were those dogs at our farm?

"Why weren't they locked up?

"And I can't answer those questions," she said.

The sheep were going to be used as breeders.

Now they have just three sheep and one ram.

The Helibronn family moved from Roma to Agnes Water early this year, bringing their sheep and cattle.

Mr Rodgers, a private dog catcher of two years' experience, said it was tough to keep feral dogs off properties.

The Queensland Feral Pest Eradication owner has spotted up to 12 feral dogs in just the Captain Creek area.

"They're everywhere here at the moment," Mr Rodgers said.

"It's difficult to keep them out of properties, you do have to have very good fencing to do that," he said.

The Gladstone Regional Council has a feral dog baiting program offered to property owners.

They are conducted in June/July (early winter) and again in October/November (early spring).

Mr Rodgers said he believed more frequent and stronger baiting would help solve the issue in Agnes Water.

"They're a very clever dog," he said.

"I've seen footage of an adult dog with pups and the pups will go for the bait but the mum stood back and growled because she knew exactly what it was."