State of the Environment Report title
2 0 0 4

2004 Report



Palerang

Pest Animals

Indicator description

Results for this indicator are also available for  

What the results tell us for Palerang

| Infestations | Pests as threats | Control activities |

Rabbits, foxes, wild dogs and feral pigs continued to be the main pest animals in Palerang Council Area during the reporting period, although feral cats, wild deer and feral goats were also present in some areas.

The Braidwood Rural Lands Protection Board and the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation undertook control programs within the council area for rabbits, foxes, feral goats, feral pigs and wild dogs during the current period. Rabbit populations decreased by approximately 50% due to the introduction of the calicivirus and the implementation of a management plan for the species. Control programs also resulted in a 15% reduction in pig numbers.

Pest animal infestations

The more mobile pest animal species utilise a wide variety of habitat types within all land tenures. Populations of all pest animal species fluctuate with climate, seasonal conditions and the availability of local resources. Managing pest animals and their impacts is the shared responsibility of all land managers.

The Department of Primary Industries (DPI—formerly NSW Agriculture) has undertaken analyses of pest animal distribution and abundance across NSW and the ACT. This included pest animal mapping during 1996, 2002 and 2004 (NSW Agriculture 1996; West and Saunders 2003; DPI 2005) (for more information about this mapping see About the data).

Six animals were reported to be pests in Palerang Council Area during the reporting period—dingoes and wild dogs (Canis lupus familiaris, Canis lupus dingo and hybrids), feral pigs (Sus scrofa), feral goats (Capra hircus), foxes (Vulpes vulpes), rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and wild deer (Cervus spp, Dama dama and Axis spp). The location, abundance and distribution of these species within the council area are summarised in Table 1, and changes in their distribution and population density summarised in Table 2. Feral Cats (Felis catus) were also reported to be present in some areas.

The Braidwood Rural Lands Protection Board estimates that rabbit numbers were generally low throughout the reporting period but varied depending on seasonal conditions. Although rabbits were widespread throughout the council area, their populations affected only a small proportion of land within this range (see Table 1). Foxes were relatively evenly distributed across the entire council area; their density (Table 1) equates to roughly 11,000 foxes within it.

Table 1. Pest animal species within Palerang Council Area, July 2000 to June 2004
Pest animal speciesPreferred habitats in council area*Density (and % of council area) or other measureTotal distribution (ha)Total area affected (ha)
Feral goats
(Capra hircus)
One high-density population near Araluen. Three scattered medium-density populations, one south east of Araluen, one at Googong Dam and one along Shoalhaven River in north east of council area. The majority of populations are on reasonably rugged terrain which is partially covered by native forest and woodlands interspersed with areas of modified pasture.High—9,900 ha (2%)
Medium—9,900 ha (2%)
Low—67,900 (13%)
87,700unknown
Feral pigs
(Sus scrofa)
Any timbered area or area of modified pastures adjacent to timbered areas within council area. High-density populations predominantly along Shoalhaven River corridor in area of native forest and woodlands.Seasonal conditions play a big role in number of pigs in council area from year to year. Somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 pigs for 2004.350,00050,000
Foxes
(Vulpes vulpes)
Scattered throughout council area in variety of habitats from native forests and woodland and pine plantations, to native and modified pastures.Approximately 2 per square km.560,000560,000
Rabbits
(Oryctolagus cuniculus)
Generally scattered throughout council area in variety of habitats from native forests and woodland and pine plantations, to native and modified pastures.Generally low (but varies with seasonal conditions).196,0004,900
Wild deer
(Cervus spp, Dama dama and Axis spp)
High-density population to east of Lake George predominantly on modified pastures and areas of scattered native forest. Medium- and low-density populations on areas of native and modified pastures interspersed with remnant patches of native forest and woodland.High—29,800 ha (6%)
Medium—42,100ha (8%)
Low—15,700 (3%)
87,600unknown
Wild dogs
(Canis familiaris)
Within native forests and woodlands and native and modified pastures along coastal range and in southern end of council area. Around 70 wild dogs took poisoned bait from bait stations during 2004.200,00020,000

* For additional information on the general habitat preferences of pest animal species, see Pest animal habitat; Source: Braidwood Rural Lands Protection Board; Choquenot et al. 1996; DEC 2004c,d; DPI 2005; Fleming et al. 2001.

According to DPI mapping (Table 2), all species except foxes increased in distribution or abundance between 1996 and 2002. Between 2002 and 2004, dingo and deer populations increased in distribution, while wild dogs, feral pigs and wild deer also appeared to increase in abundance. Increases in wild deer within the council area is a trend consistent with many other regions. Fox abundance within the council area decreased slightly between 2002 and 2004 but their distribution remained stable.

Table 2. Mapped pest animal distributions within Palerang Council Area, 1996, 2002 and 2004
Pest animal speciesPopulation density (% of council area)
199620022004
Dingoes and wild dogs
(Canis lupus familiaris, Canis lupus dingo and hybrids)
Medium—6%
Low—19%
Medium—2%
Low—38%
High—6%
Medium—29%
Low—9%
Feral goats
(Capra hircus)
High—0.3%
Medium—1%
Low—6%
Medium—4%
Low—13%
High—2%
Medium—2%
Low—13%
Feral pigs
(Sus scrofa)
Medium—15%
Low—34%
Medium—34%
Low—56%
High—13%
Medium—31%
Low—47%
Foxes
(Vulpes vulpes)
Not mapped.High—1%
Medium—94%
Low—5%
High—0.1%
Medium—92%
Low—8%
Rabbits
(Oryctolagus cuniculus)
Medium—1%
Low—6%
Medium—0.4%
Low—96%
Medium—3%
Low—93%
Wild deer
(Cervus spp, Dama dama and Axis spp)
8%—no density information recordedHigh—3%
Medium—1%
Low—5%
High—6%
Medium—8%
Low—3%

Source: NSW Agriculture 1996; West and Saunders 2003; DPI 2005.

At least seven pest animal species occurred in nine conservation reserves within Palerang Council Area (see Table 3). Feral cats and foxes had moderate populations across the entire area of these reserves while deer populations were low in density. The distribution of goats, feral pigs and rabbits within the reserves was variable during the reporting period. Rabbits could be found throughout the majority of Scott Nature Reserve in 2002–03 (the only year for which data were available; see About the data). See below for a discussion of pest animal control activities.

Table 3. Pest animals in conservation reserves within Palerang Council Area, 2002–03 and 2003–04*
Pest speciesReserve**
Feral catsBurra Creek NR; Goorooyarroo NR; Scott Nature NR; Tallaganda NP; Tallaganda SCA; Turallo NR; Yanununbeyan NP, NR and SCA.
Feral goatsBurra Creek NR; Tallaganda NP; Yanununbeyan NP, NR and SCA.
Feral pigsBurra Creek NR; Tallaganda NP; Tallaganda SCA; Yanununbeyan NP, NR and SCA.
FoxesBurra Creek NR; Goorooyarroo NR; Scott Nature NR; Tallaganda NP; Tallaganda SCA; Turallo NR; Yanununbeyan NP, NR and SCA.
RabbitsBurra Creek NR; Scott Nature NR; Yanununbeyan NP, NR and SCA.
Wild deerBurra Creek NR; Yanununbeyan NP, NR and SCA.
Wild dogsBurra Creek NR; Yanununbeyan NP, NR and SCA.

* All data are for the two financial years, except for rabbits in Scott Nature Reserve which are for the 2003–04 financial year only; ** NP = National Park; NR = Nature Reserve; SCA = State Conservation Area; Source: NSW Department of Environment and Conservation

Pest animals as threatening processes

The activities of six pest animal species in NSW that are present in Palerang Council Area have been listed as key threatening processes in the state (see Table 4) by the NSW Scientific Committee under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. Of these species, the Committee made one final determination and three preliminary determinations during the current reporting period. Final determinations for the latter were made after July 2004.

Table 4. Listed threatening processes in NSW that relate to pest animals in Palerang Council Area
Name of threatening processDate of determination
Competition and grazing by the feral European Rabbit (DEC 2004a)Final: 10 May 2001
Competition and habitat degradation by Feral Goats (DEC 2004b)Preliminary: 11 June 2004
Final: 12 November 2004
Predation, habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission by Feral Pigs (DEC 2004c)Preliminary: 28 April 2004
Final: 27 August 2004
Herbivory and environmental degradation caused by Wild Deer (Cervus spp., Dama dama and Axis spp.) (DEC 2004d)Preliminary: 24 October 2003
Final: 17 December 2004
Predation by the European Red Fox (DEC 2004e)Final: 20 March 1998
Predation by the Feral Cat (DEC 2004f)Final: 24 March 2000

Source: NSW Department of Environment and Conservation

A threat abatement plan was prepared during the current reporting period for the European Red Fox. This plan provides a collaborative strategy for fox control programs with the primary purpose of conserving native species in NSW (NPWS 2001b).

Pest animal control activities

NSW Government agencies

During the reporting period, the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC—formerly NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service) undertook control programs for four pest animal species in conservation areas, often in conjunction with other government agencies and the rural land protection boards (RLPBs).

DEC is working jointly with the Braidwood, Bombala and South Coast RLPBs, Forests NSW (formerly State Forests of NSW) and the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment to undertake a regional vertebrate pest control program. A working group has been established and DEC has contracted the Braidwood, Bombala and South Coast RLPBs and Forests NSW to assist in the control of wild dogs in reserves from Nowra south to the Victorian border (NPWS 2001a, 2002, 2003).

A research project involving trapping and micro-chipping of wild dogs in south-eastern NSW ran from May 1999 to October 2002, and included monitoring wild dogs movements as part of the research to assist in the development of a more strategic approach to their control. The project was managed by a coordinating committee comprised of representatives from Yass, Gundagai, Holbrook, Cooma, Braidwood and Bombala RLPBs, NSW Agriculture, DEC, Forests NSW, the Department of Infrastructure and Natural Resources (formerly Department of Land and Water Conservation), Environment ACT and the ACT Leaseholders Association. The project was funded by these agencies and through the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT), and included the employment of a contractor to target areas where wild dog attacks on livestock were historically a problem (NPWS 2001a, 2002, 2003).

In the 2003–04 financial year, DEC undertook control programs for foxes and feral goats within Araluen Nature Reserve, and for wild dogs, foxes, feral goats and pigs within Bees Nest Nature Reserve. Forty-seven goats were killed in the Shoalhaven Gorge area of the latter reserve. No information is available on the outcome of the programs in Araluen Nature Reserve.

During the current reporting period, DEC also undertook successful feral pig trapping or baiting control programs within Deua and Gourock national parks, and a major feral goat control program in that part of Morton National Park located within Palerang Council Area (NPWS 2001a, 2002, 2003). Approximately 16% of Deua, 52% of Gourock and 8% of Morton National Park fall within the council area. No figures are available about the distribution of these pest animals, expenditure on control programs or changes in pest abundance due to the control measures.

No control programs were undertaken for any of the pest species known to occur within other reserves in Palerang Council Area (see Table 3); all populations are reported as stable.

DEC issued a number of licences to private landholders within the council area during the current reporting period to cull Eastern Grey Kangaroos on their properties. As a result of this program, at least 21,137 animals were culled for non-commercial purposes and 650 animals were culled for commercial purposes. Commercial culling has only been available in Palerang Council Area since January 2004, with the first licences being issued in March 2004.

Braidwood Rural Lands Protection Board

The Braidwood RLPB has developed a Pest Animal and Insect Management Plan that covers all major pest species within its area of responsibility. This plan is updated annually to ensure that the most effective methods are being employed and current research regarding control methodology is considered when undertaking any pest animal control programs within the board district. The objectives of the RLPB's control programs for rabbits and foxes are:

Control methods within the board area for rabbits focus predominantly on harbour destruction and poisoning, while fox control methods focus solely on 1080 baiting. The RLPB also undertook control programs for wild dogs and feral pigs throughout the council area.

Individuals or landholders were reported to have undertaken all rabbit control in the council area, while individuals carried out approximately two-thirds of fox control with the RLPB implementing the remaining third. There were no reports of community groups undertaking any fox or rabbit control within the council area during the current reporting period. This is a marked reduction from the previous period, particularly for fox control, as during that period community groups such as Landcare were responsible for approximately 20% of the total area treated for foxes.

Pest animal control expenditure

Braidwood RLPB expenditure on pest animal control and outcomes of control programs within the council area are summarised in Table 5. The majority of funding for RLPB control programs was sourced from board rates, except for the feral pig program for which some funding was sourced through NHT. Annual expenditure varied between species, and was highest for feral pig control (36% of RLPB total expenditure, covering approximately 10% of the board area).

Feral pig numbers were reduced by about 15% as a result of the control program and local community awareness of them increased. Although control programs did not significantly change the abundance of wild dogs within the council area, wild dog attacks were reported to have decreased by 75%.

It is estimated that the rabbit population in the council area decreased by 50% during the past five years, largely because of the implementation of a management plan and the introduction of the calicivirus. This reduction supports the generally low abundance for this species reported in Table 1. The extent to which the reduction in rabbit populations increased fox predation pressure on small native mammal species and ground-nesting birds in the council area is not known. Fox abundance in areas with management programs appeared to remain unchanged.

Table 5. Expenditure on pest animal control within Palerang Council Area, July 2000 to June 2004
Pest animal speciesAnnual expenditure by RLPBSource of fundingOutcome: change in
abundance or spread
Total area treated (ha) #
YearAmount
Feral pig
(Sus scrofa)
2000–01$37,000Board rates and NHT fundsSlight reduction—approximately 15%. Public awareness increased.55,000
2001–02$37,000
2002–03$37,000
2003–04$37,000
Fox
(Vulpes vulpes)
2000–01$19,600Board ratesNone; the fox population appears to remain stable14,700
2001–02$19,600
2002–03$19,600
2003–04$19,600
Rabbit
(Oryctolagus cuniculus)
2000–01$19,600Board ratesApproximately 50% reduction in rabbit populations over five years due to management plan being in force and the introduction of calicivirus.490
2001–02$19,600
2002–03$19,600
2003–04$19,600
Wild dog
(Canis familiaris)
2000–01$27,500Board ratesA 75% reduction in wild dog attacks, however actual dog numbers seem to vary little from year to year.25,000
2001–02$27,500
2002–03$27,500
2003–04$27,500

# Includes area treated by the RLPB, individuals and community groups; Source: Braidwood Rural Lands Protection Board

About the data

Data were provided by Braidwood Rural Lands Protection Board. Approximately 95% of Palerang Council Area falls within the Braidwood Rural Lands Protection Board administrative area; the council area comprises approximately 85% of the board area.

Additional data collected for the 2002–03 and 2003–04 financial years for the Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management Program were provided by DEC.

The NSW DPI pest animal maps represent the distribution and abundance of major pest animals throughout NSW and the ACT. Based on a density ranking system, maps depict variation in animal abundance across all land tenures. Information was collected at a regional scale using a grid cell basis. Pest animal density data were obtained from the Rural Lands Protection Board districts, NSW National Parks, State Forests of NSW, Environment ACT, Sydney Catchment Authority, and the Game Council of NSW. The data were compiled by NSW DPI Vertebrate Pest Research Unit in a collaborative project to focus resources, identify emerging issues, and advance preparedness for exotic animal disease. NSW DPI conducted three major surveys in 1996, 2002 and 2004. Increased awareness of pest animals throughout NSW has increased the accuracy and detail of maps in recent years.

DEC held data for rabbits in Scott Nature Reserve only for 2003–04 (unlike other reserves shown in Table 3 for which data were available for both 2002–03 and 2003–04), possibly because the reserve was only gazetted in 2001. Scott Nature Reserve is only 150 ha in area.

Data regarding the DEC kangaroo management program was provided by DEC, Environment Protection and Regulation Division, Dubbo. Figures for non-commercial culling may be less than the actual numbers culled due to local DEC offices not having access to the Kangaroo Management Database until the 2001–02 financial year.

References

Choquenot, D, McIlroy, J and Korn, T (1996) Managing Vertebrate Pests: Feral Pigs, Bureau of Resource Sciences, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

DEC—see Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW)

Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2004a) NSW Scientific Committee—Final Determination, Competition and Grazing by the Feral European Rabbit—Key Threatening Process Declaration, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, viewed 3 February 2005, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Competition +and+grazing+by+the+feral+European+rabbit+key+threatening+process+declaration .

Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2004b) NSW Scientific Committee—Final Determination, Competition and Habitat Degradation by Feral Goats—Key Threatening Process Declaration. NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, viewed 3 February 2005, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/feral_goats_ktp.

Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2004c) NSW Scientific Committee—Final Determination, Feral Pigs—Key Threatening Process Declaration, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, viewed 3 February 2005, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/feral_pigs_ktp.

Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2004d) NSW Scientific Committee—Final Determination, Herbivory and Environmental Degradation Caused by Feral Deer—Key Threatening Process Declaration, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, viewed 3 February 2005, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/feral_deer_ktp.

Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2004e) NSW Scientific Committee—Final Determination, Predation by the European Red Fox—Key Threatening Process Declaration, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, viewed 3 February 2005, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Predation +by+the+European+red+fox+key+threatening+process+declaration.

Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2004f) NSW Scientific Committee—Final Determination, Predation by the Feral Cat—Key Threatening Process Declaration, NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, viewed 3 February 2005, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Predation +by+feral+cats+-+key+threatening+process+declaration.

Department of Primary Industries (NSW) (2005) Pest Animal Survey 2004: A review of the distribution, impacts and control of invasive animals throughout NSW and the ACT, unpublished report, Vertebrate Pest Research Unit, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange.

DPI—see Department of Primary Industries (NSW)

Fleming, P, Corbett, L, Harden, R and Thomson, P (2001) Managing the Impacts of Dingoes and Other Wild Dogs, Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra.

NPWS—see NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

NSW Agriculture (1996) Pest Animal Mapping, Unpublished data, NSW Agriculture, Orange.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (2001a) NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Pest Animal Management Programs 2001, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (2001b) Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville, viewed 3 February 2005, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/PDFs/Redfox_approved.pdf.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (2002) NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Pest Animal Management Programs 2002, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (2003) NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Pest Animal Management 2003, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville.

West, P and Saunders, G (2003) Pest Animal Survey 2002: An analysis of pest animal distribution and abundance across NSW and the ACT, NSW Agriculture Emergency Animal Disease Preparedness Initiative, NSW Agriculture, Orange.