Pest animals are known to have a huge impact on biodiversity and agriculture all across Australia and, unfortunately, the Northern Agricultural Region does not escape unscathed.
But on the “plus” side of the ledger, the region is fortunate enough to have hundreds of enthusiastic local landholders who are prepared to do something about this insidious problem – many of whom recently participated in autumn control activities.
According to a recent Pest Animal Control CRC report, feral animals cost Australia in excess of $720 million per year. They cause catastrophic damage, and threaten our native animals and plants, our landscapes, agriculture, and other industries.
“Rabbits, foxes, feral cats, wild dogs and pigs were shown to inflict the greatest cost impact on our nation’s economy,” the report stated.
Impact from feral animals
In the case of feral rabbits, wild dogs and pigs, the major component of the impact comes from reduced agricultural production, principally in the sheep and cattle industries. While feral cats, feral goats and foxes were estimated to inflict large costs associated with predation of native fauna.
For feral cats, for example, Australia’s Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) and Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats (2015), estimated that feral cats ”are recognised as a potential threat to 74 mammal species … 40 birds, 21 reptiles and 4 amphibians.
Research by WA ecologist Tim Doherty revealed that feral cats prey on 400 wildlife species in Australia: 157 reptiles, 123 birds, 58 marsupials, 27 rodents, and 21 frogs.
Response to community concern
Given the heavy impact that cats and other pest animals impose on the landscape, agriculture and other related industries, there is increasing community concern and need for more coordinated and collaborative approaches to tackle the threats.
Responding to this need, and to community concerns, NACC recently supported five regional groups (West Midlands Group, Moora Miling Pasture Improvement Group, Mingenew Irwin Group, Perenjori Farming Forward, and Northampton Feral Eradication Group), to conduct a series of local Red Card for Rabbits and Foxes activities across the region.
Thanks to more than 200 enthusiastic landholders – who passionately spent a mostly sleepless night participating in a very successful event – good results were achieved through the coordinated feral animal control campaign across the region.
A total of 835 foxes, 1,210 rabbits, 50 feral cats and 43 feral pigs were tallied during the events, and removed from our precious farm- and land-scapes. (That’s 2,138 all up!)
— Sarah Gilleland (@Sarah_Gilly31) March 14, 2016
The Red Card for Rabbits and the Foxes event held by MIG also helped to raise $1,165 for the Royal Flying Doctors cause through the donations made by the Stockbrands Company.
NACC Regional Landcare Facilitator Stanley Yokwe said these collaborative, community-driven events are a really effective way of controlling feral animals, and help get more people involved in the issue.
“They also provide an opportunity for people to connect, network and have fun together,” he said.
NACC expressed thanks to everyone who participated-in or supported the feral animals control activities, particularly key partners: West Midlands Group, Moora Miling Pasture Improvement Group, Mingenew Irwin Group, Perenjori Farming Forward, and Northampton Feral Eradication Group.
NACC also expresses its thanks to the local businesses that have made in-kind and cash contributions – including the Perenjori Hotel, Agri-Services Perenjori, Landmark Coorow, Coorow Football Club, the Coorow Family Shop, and Wade Parker and Flora Danielzik who made their shearing shed available and provided a drop-off point during the Coorow versus Perenjori Community Fox Shoot day.
These events are part of an on-going series of feral animal control activities being conducted in the region under NACC’s Regional Landcare Facilitator program. Funding is provided through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.