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Feral Animals

Land

Feral animals have a huge impact on local biodiversity through predation, competition and habitat degradation and are responsible for threatening many iconic local native species such as the chuditch, quenda and woylie with extinction. They also have an enormous impact on agriculture annually.

European Rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus

The feral rabbit is one of the most abundant and widely distributed mammals in Australia. It impacts on both agriculture and biodiversity through damage to vegetation, competition with native animals and degradation of the land. Rabbits eat seeds and seedlings, preventing regeneration and ringbarking older trees and shrubs. Their impacts can increase in times of stress, after a fire or during a drought, when they will eat anything available. The control of rabbits is complicated by the fact that they are a food source for many predators, both native and non-native. Biological methods of control have been particularly effective with calicivirus proving to be most successful in the wetter regions of the SW. 1080 control can also be used, providing a high mortality rate.

Feral cat, Felis catus

Feral cats are those which survive without any assistance from humans. They will generally eat small mammals but also catch birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects. Feral cats have probably contributed to the extinction of many small to medium sized mammals and ground nesting birds as well as affecting the success of recovery programs. The control of feral cats is difficult due to their avoidance of traps and reluctance to take buried bait. Fences are often the most effective way of keeping feral cats away from an area, allowing native species to recover.

European Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes

The fox was introduced to Australia in 1855 to provide a hunting target, within 100 years it had spread across most of the country. Foxes have played a significant role in the decline of many native animals; they also prey on lambs and chickens. Fencing and broad-scale baiting with 1080 is the most effective way of reducing fox numbers.

Feral pig, Sus scrofa

Feral pigs are both environmental and agricultural pests. Their behaviours such as wallowing, rooting for food and selective feeding causes damage to the natural environment and damages habitats, affecting native plants and animals. They also destroy crops and pasture. Feral pigs are never far from water, and their wallowing and rooting for food around watercourses degrades riparian vegetation. This in turn increases erosion and causes a reduction in the stream condition. Pigs also outcompete native animals for food and assist the spread of environmental weeds. 1080 bait can be used to control numbers and traps built near wet areas are also successful. Unfortunately the pigs’ rapid breeding cycle often results in the re-colonisation of a cleared area.

Control

A license from the Department of Agriculture and Food is required to undertake 1080 baiting. CCG are able to help with the application process to gain the necessary 1080 license. See the booklet and application form below for more details.

Trapping can be used as an alternative in situations when 1080 baiting is inappropriate due to small property sizes or the presence of domestic animals.

CCG’s new pamphlet A guide to fox and feral cat control includes information on the control options available to landholders, as well as tips and advice on how to achieve a successful control program.

CCG runs regular workshops on feral animal control for landholders and traps can be borrowed from the group.

The Department of Agriculture and Food can also be contacted for more information. agric.wa.gov.au or info@agric.wa.gov.au

1080 Landholder booklet April 2012

Application 1080 single use

Water

Feral animals are also found in the waterways, where they wreak havoc and change ecosystems.

Goldfish, Carassius auratus

Unwanted pet goldfish are often released into the local waterways where they survive and thrive causing a real issue for local species. They eat the young of native species and out-compete the adults for food.

The Cape to Cape Catchments Group has worked with Murdoch University’s Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research to electrofish creeks and dams to prevent the movement of feral fish, particularly goldfish into the Margaret River and our other streams.

Electrofishing utilises a mild electrical current to stun fish and allows feral fish species to be netted without capturing native fish and altering the ecology of the waterway.

Unwanted aquarium pets should never be released into the wild as they change the nature of our waterways and carry diseases and micro-organisms.

Yabby, Cherax destructor

Introduced to the south west in 1932, the yabby is native to eastern Australia. It is extremely adaptable and breeds prolifically in the warmer months; this allows it to outcompete the native crayfish species. Restrictions are in place on the farming and movement of yabbies.

Red-fin Perch, Perca fluviatilis

This freshwater fish was first introduced to south-western Australia in the 1890’s as a sport fish. It is now considered a serious pest as it breeds readily and eats juvenile Marron.

Eastern Gambusia, Gambusia holbrooki

The Eastern Gambusia was initially introduced in the 1930’s-40’s as an aid to controlling the mosquito population. They have failed to do this effectively and instead attack the fins of native fish and out-compete them for food and territory.

Air

The following birds are considered to be a pest species in this region.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua galerita

Numbers can be large and they cause damage to crops and timber structures.

Pink and grey galah, Eolophus roseicapillus assimilis

They are so numerous that the Galah is now considered to be a pest by many in the agricultural industry. Large flocks will attack grain fields and devour crops. Their large flock sizes reduce the food sources available to native species.

Little and Long Billed Corellas, Cacatua sanguine gymnopis and Cacatua tenuirostris

The Little and Long Billed Corellas have established populations in Busselton and Dunsborough. They are currently controlled through a feeding and trapping methodology in an effort to keep the population numbers under control. Corellas cause significant damage and are a threat to native species. Their numbers not only allow them to outcompete native species for food sources but they also take over the breeding hollows of native species.

Rainbow lorikeet

Under Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) legislation the rainbow lorikeet is classified as a pest species in all areas south of the Kimberley. The rainbow lorikeet working group aims to formulate strategies to manage populations of the lorikeet in south west WA. More information can be found on the DAFWA website

Laughing and Blue-winged Kookaburra, Dacelo novaeguineae and Dacelo leachii

Both species have been introduced into Western Australia. They aggressively dominate their territory displacing smaller bush birds.

European honeybee, Apis mellifera

Feral honeybees are generally aggressive, inbred, have a high propensity to swarm and are of little value to the honey industry or for the pollination of crops.

Bumblebees (Bombus terrestris ssp audax) out-compete both commercial honeybees and native bees. They are able to fly at lower temperatures and forage further than other bees. There is also some interest in weed pollination by bumblebees as it is though that they are specialised pollinators of some agricultural weeds.

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