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Coordinated effort on feral animals needed

Pest animal control remains a significant issue for Livestock SA members, with results from our recent 2018 annual survey highlighting it was a “major issue” for 35 per cent of producers.

In particular, wild dog predation was classed as a key issue for 20 per cent of all producers who responded, but in a region-by-region perspective it rose to being a key issue for 46pc of producers in the pastoral region.

Kangaroos, deer, pigs and goat management were also raised as areas of significant concern by members.

Grazing pressure and competition for feed from pest animal species have been key issues for producers right across SA given dry seasonal conditions across many regional areas.

But it’s a much broader issue than just affecting holding capacity or stocking rates and we have continued to advocate for a more coordinated response.

We believe a collective and coordinated approach is key to the control of all pest animal species in SA, and is vital for the ongoing management of these animals.

In many cases there are prescribed control regimes in place but the way in which they are policed means there is no compulsion to follow the rules.

For example, we have not been able to find any instances in the past decade where feral/farmed deer control has been policed. In many cases escapees from private landholders can be the cause of wild populations. This often means it then becomes a regional problem before anything can be done.

However, after an extended period of lobbying we are expecting to see greater implementation of control for feral deer within state forestry plantations by the end of the year.

We have also continued to call for a better compliance on the control and fencing of farmed deer and improved coordination of cull programs.

Kangaroos have been an ongoing issue with the dry season highlighting this issue. On inside country kangaroos are having a significant impact on recovering pastures, with 75pc of weekly Livestock SA survey respondents indicating kangaroos were a significant problem on their properties.

We have been working with industry, including with SA kangaroo processing companies to enhance current harvesting programs, at the moment only 10pc of possible numbers are harvested. There are currently only 10 fulltime kangaroo harvesters and 20 to 30 part-time workers, versus 130 a decade ago.

Various factors have played into this decline in harvester/shooter numbers, and in the number of kangaroos harvested. We are working with industry and would like to see an extension to the zones in which the commercial harvest of kangaroos can be conducted in.

We would also like to see a reduction in the current fees and registration costs that commercial harvesters must undertake, so it is more in line with interstate charges. We are also keen to have better promotion of kangaroos into export markets.

Feral pigs also remain a concern, in particular with their indiscriminate appearance across many regions in SA. It’s worrying that people who have no understanding of the long-term impact of feral pigs continue to appear to release them for hunting purposes. They are highly destructive animals, which can cause damage to infrastructure, grazing pressure and disease risks.

Feral goat control remains an ongoing concern, particular for pastoral producers. The strategic review and consideration of this resource remains ongoing.

ANDREW CURTIS, Chief Executive Officer, Livestock SA

27 September 2018 Media Type: Column / Policy Area: Invasive Species /