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Review of existing Red Fox, Wild Dog, Feral Cat, Feral Rabbit, Feral Pig, and Feral Goat control in Australia. I. Audit

Ben Reddiex, David M. Forsyth, Eve McDonald-Madden, Luke D. Einoder, Peter A. Griffioen, Ryan R. Chick, and Alan J. Robley.
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2004

Results

7.1 Control operations

7.1.1 Surveys conducted

Surveys were conducted across all States and Territories of Australia from August 2003 to May 2004. A total of 112 interviews were held with representatives from 27 organisations (Table 7.1). A total of 1306 pest animal control surveys were conducted and entered into the database. The majority of surveys were undertaken in Victoria (n=587), New South Wales (n=366) and Western Australia (n=167; Table 7.1). In all States/Territories (except the Northern Territory), one key organisation provided over 70% of all surveys. These organisations were Environment ACT (Australian Capital Territory), New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (New South Wales), Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (Queensland), Department of Environment and Heritage (South Australia), Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (Tasmania), Parks Victoria (Victoria), and Department of Conservation and Land Management (Western Australia). In the Northern Territory, the Centralian Land Management Association and Parks and Wildlife Commission together comprised 67% of the surveys. Of the Federal organisations, 69% of all surveys were provided by the Australian Defence Force.

In addition to the surveys where information was suitable for inclusion in the database, 486 local bodies, 39 universities, and 55 agricultural boards were contacted (Table 7.2). Across all states and territories, 22% of local bodies had carried out some pest animal control, however, the majority of this control was reactive (i.e., in response to complaints) and varied widely over time. None of the local body control operations were suitable for inclusion in the database. Of the 39 universities contacted, 8 (21%) had carried out some pest animal control as part of a research programme, however, only two were formally surveyed and included in the database (see Table 7.1). All agricultural 'boards' contacted were involved in pest animal control, but only two operations were included in the review (Table 7.2). As previously indicated, agricultural boards are largely focused on co-ordinating farmers, farmer groups, and private organisations to undertake on-ground control work.

7.1.2 Species targeted

Of the six pest animal species, foxes and feral rabbits were the most frequently targeted species throughout Australia, comprising 505 and 412 of the 1407 operations, respectively (the increase in operation sample size results from instances where multiple pest animal species were targeted in the one operation; see Section 6.4; Figure 7.1). The percentage of control operations that targeted different species varied between the States and Territories (Figure 7.2). For some species this may be explained by their distribution (see Figure 4.1; Pg 9) and/or relative density across the country (e.g., no fox control was reported from the organisations we surveyed in the Northern Territory, which corresponds with the absence of foxes from large parts of that Territory). Across all States and Territories few operations (n=55) targeted feral cats, despite their wide distribution (Figure 4.1; Pg 9).

Table 7.1. List of organisations that were surveyed, the number of meetings held with each organisation, and the number of operations surveyed.
State/Territory Organisation Number of interviews Number of operations surveyed
Federal Australian Defence Force
7
111
  Cook Shire Council (Cook Islands)
1
22
  Department of Environment and Heritage
3
33
  Subtotal
11
16
       
Australian Capital Territories Environment ACT
2
11
  Subtotal
2
11
       
New South Wales New South Wales Parks and Wildlife
18
308
  New South Wales State Forests
9
50
  Rural Lands Protection Board
1
2
  Subtotal
28
360
       
Northern Territories Centralian Land Management Association
1
5
  Lowe Ecological Services
1
1
  Parks and Wildlife Centre Northern Territory
1
3
  Subtotal
3
9
       
Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines
2
6
  Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
10
74
  Subtotal
12
80
       
South Australia Arid Recovery Program
1
2
  Department of Environment and Heritage
12
44
  Rangeland Action Project
1
14
  University of Adelaide
1
1
  University of South Australia
1
1
  Subtotal
16
62
       
Tasmania Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment
4
16
  Subtotal
4
16
       
Victoria Department of Primary Industries
5
17
  Department of Sustainability and Environment
9
79
  Melbourne Water
3
6
  Parks Victoria
1
4764
  Phillip Island Nature Park
2
5
  Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne
1
2
  Subtotal
21
585
       
Western Australia Conservation and Land Management
13
161
  CSIRO Western Australia
1
3
  Western Australian Field and Game Association
1
3
  Subtotal
15
167
       
  TOTAL
112
1306

1 Operations undertaken in New South Wales (4), Northern Territories (1), Queensland (4), and Victoria (2).
2 Both operations undertaken in Queensland.
3 Operations undertaken in New South Wales (2), and North Territories (1).
4 Database on pest animal control supplied by Parks Victoria (see Section 6.4 for the types of data not provided by Parks Victoria).

Table 7.2. Total number of local governments, universities and agricultural boards that were contacted, the percentage that had undertaken pest animal control, and the number of operations surveyed.
Type of organisation Total number Number contacted Percent that conducted control Number of operations surveyed
Local bodies        
New South Wales
172
128
12
0
Northern Territory
63
13
8
0
Queensland
125
111
66
0
South Australia
72
59
3
0
Tasmania
29
26
4
0
Victoria
48
47
21
0
Western Australia
144
102
4
0
Total
653
486
22
0
         
Universities        
Australian Capital Territory
3
3
0
0
New South Wales
12
10
10
0
Northern Territory
1
1
0
0
Queensland
10
8
25
0
South Australia
3
3
33
2
Tasmania
1
1
0
0
Victoria
9
9
33
0
Western Australia
4
4
25
0
Total
43
39
21
2
         
Agricultural Boards        
New South Wales1
48
26
100
2
South Australia2
29
29
100
0
Total
77
55
100
2

1 Rural Land Protection Boards. Contact details were only supplied for 26 Boards as 22 Boards staff were relatively new to the district or the position was vacant (C. Lane, State Council of Rural Land Protection Boards, personal communication).
2 Animal and Plant Control Boards

Figure 7.1. Number of operations surveyed for each of the six targeted pest species across all States and Territories of Australia.

Figure 7.1. Number of operations surveyed for each of the six targeted pest species across all States and Territories of Australia.

Figure 7.2. Percentage of control operations in each State and Territory targeting each of the six pest animal species. The total number of operations are: ACT, 11; NSW, 366; NT, 11; QLD, 86; SA, 62; TAS, 16; VIC, 587; and WA, 167. The number of operations per species are shown on the figure.

Figure 7.2. Percentage of control operations in each State and Territory targeting each of the six pest animal species. The total number of operations are: ACT, 11; NSW, 366; NT, 11; QLD, 86; SA, 62; TAS, 16; VIC, 587; and WA, 167. The number of operations per species are shown on the figure.

7.1.3 Land tenure and agencies funding and conducting control

For all pest animal species, most operations were undertaken on public land (range across species; 86每95%), with ≒ 8% being solely undertaken on private land (Figure 7.3). A similar pattern was evident for the agencies that were funding and conducting control operations, with most control operations being funded by public organisations (range: 85每 97%), and undertaken by public agencies (range: 87每96%; Figure 7.3).

7.1.4 Integrated control

Pest animal species other than those targeted in the control action were often present in the control area (Figure 7.4). For example, where foxes were targeted, over 70% of the control operations also had either feral cats and/or feral rabbits present in the control area. In 7% of control operations, multiple species were identified as being targeted, and in 99% of these instances only two species were targeted. Where multiple species were targeted in the same operation, fox and dog combinations were the most common (76% of instances where multiple species were targeted), as identical techniques can be used in the control of these species. The next most common combination was feral pig and feral goat control.

There were 82 instances where unique operations targeting different species were conducted in the same tenure (e.g., parks and reserves; range of 2每6 operations per tenure, and 56% of instances involved two species). A limitation of this approach in commenting on the extent of integrated control is that the degree of integrated control may be overstated, as some control operations were undertaken over different sized areas within each tenure, or may have been undertaken in totally separate areas within a tenure.

7.1.5 Status of control operations

Survey participants classified the majority (83%) of control operations as ongoing (i.e., planned to continue past 2003; Figure 7.5). A higher percentage of fox, wild dog, feral pig and feral goat operations were ongoing (range across species of 84每92%) compared with feral cat and feral rabbit operations (range across species of 57每68%). The lower percentage of ongoing feral cat operations was a result of a number of operations having ceased due to the goal of the operation being attained (28%), the majority of which were eradication campaigns (35 of 103 control actions had the aim of eradication). The lower proportion of ongoing feral rabbit operations was a result of 25% of operations having ceased due to a lack of funding.

7.1.6 Control guidelines

For all pest animal species over 97% of operations used some form of guidelines or standard operating procedures when undertaking pest control. In most cases the same guidelines/standard operating procedures were used throughout a given State or Territory.

7.1.7 Number of control actions per operation

There was a total of 2514 actions for the 1407 operations across the six pest animal species. The number of actions per operation ranged from one to nine, but most control operations comprised only one action (Figure 7.6). Operations that had greater than three actions were largely obtained from the Parks Victoria database.

Figure 7.3. Percentage of control operations for each targeted pest animal species with public, private, or both public and private i) land tenure, ii) funding source, and iii) agency conducting control. The number of operations per targeted pest animal species are shown on the figure.

Figure 7.3. Percentage of control operations for each targeted pest animal species with public, private, or both public and private i) land tenure, ii) funding source, and iii) agency conducting control. The number of operations per targeted pest animal species are shown on the figure.

Figure 7.4. For each targeted pest species, percentage of operations with species other than those targeted present in the control area (solid bars), and the percentage of operations where other species were also targeted in the same operation (open bars). The number of operations per species are shown on the figure.

Figure 7.4. For each targeted pest species, percentage of operations with species other than those targeted present in the control area (solid bars), and the percentage of operations where other species were also targeted in the same operation (open bars). The number of operations per species are shown on the figure.

Figure 7.5. Percentage of operations, for each targeted pest species, with the status classified as ongoing or ceased due to the goal being attained, no funding or other. The number of operations per species are shown on the figure.

Figure 7.5. Percentage of operations, for each targeted pest species, with the status classified as ongoing or ceased due to the goal being attained, no funding or other. The number of operations per species are shown on the figure.

Figure 7.6. Percentage of operations for each targeted species with 1, 2, 3 or >3 control actions. The total number of operations per species are shown at the top of the figure. The total number of actions per species are: fox, 839; wild dog, 312; feral cat, 103; rabbit, 918; feral pig, 185; and feral goat, 157.

Figure 7.6. Percentage of operations for each targeted species with 1, 2, 3 or >3 control actions. The total number of operations per species are shown at the top of the figure. The total number of actions per species are: fox, 839; wild dog, 312; feral cat, 103; rabbit, 918; feral pig, 185; and feral goat, 157.