What the results tell us for Snowy River
Eight pest animal species were recorded in Snowy River Shire during the reporting period, four of which were considered major pests.
The Cooma Rural Lands Protection Board and the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation undertook control programs for rabbits, foxes, feral cats, wild dogs and feral pigs. Fox populations appear to be remaining stable, rabbit populations have reduced marginally where control works have been undertaken, and all other species have increased in distribution within the shire during the current reporting period.
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).
The major pest animals in Snowy River Shire were dingoes and wild dogs (Canis lupus familiaris, Canis lupus dingo and hybrids), feral pigs (Sus scrofa), foxes (Vulpes vulpes), rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and wild deer (Cervus spp, Dama dama and Axis spp). Their location, abundance and distribution are summarised in Table 1, and changes in their distribution and population density summarised in Table 2. Feral cats (Felis catus), feral goats (Capra hircus) and horses (Equus caballus) were also reported within the shire.
Rabbits were estimated to be distributed across an estimated 544,000 hectares of land (approximately 90% of the shire), with 74% in low-density populations, 15% in medium-density populations and 1% in high-density populations. Foxes were estimated to cover the entire shire with 67% of the shire having high-density populations and the remaining area having medium-density populations. Dingoes and wild dogs covered approximately 69% of the shire (417,000 ha) with 26% having high-density populations and 13% having medium-density populations.
|Species||Preferred habitats in shire*||Distribution and density (high, medium or low) (% of council area)|
|Dingoes and wild dogs|
(Canis lupus familiaris, Canis lupus dingo and hybrids)
|Lands affected are mainly those adjoining areas of native forests and woodland—predominantly in western section of shire with high- and medium-density populations along eastern boundary of timbered areas. Other habitats include areas of native shrub and heathland, native and modified grasslands and ephemeral wetlands and riparian areas.||417,000 ha total distribution, covering about 69% of shire at following densities:|
Medium—76,000 ha (13%)
Low—183,000 ha (30%)
|Mainly lands adjoining wooded areas in native forest and woodland—predominantly in northern section of shire with small populations in south-eastern corner of shire. Other habitats include native and modified pastures or grassland, wetland and riparian areas.||193,000 ha total distribution, covering about 32% of shire at following densities:|
Medium—152,000 ha (25%)
Low—41,000 ha (7%)
|Across entire shire. Medium-density populations mainly occur within native forests and woodlands and native shrub and heathlands in west of shire. High-density populations predominantly on native and modified pastures and on fringes of native forest and woodland and also within and surrounding urban areas within shire.||603,000 ha total distribution, covering 100% of shire at following densities:|
High—402,000 ha (67%)
Medium—201,000 ha (33%)
|Occur in all habitats within shire except more rugged forested terrain. Medium- and low-density populations occur mainly in drier areas with light granite soils.||544,000 ha total distribution, covering about 90% of shire at following densities:|
High—7,000 ha (1%)
Medium—90,000 ha (15%)
Low—447,000 ha (74%)
(Cervus spp, Dama dama and Axis spp)
|Medium-density populations occur predominantly on areas of native forest and woodland interspersed with native and modified grassland or native heath and shrublands.||219,000 ha total distribution, covering the shire at the following densities:|
Medium—35,000 ha (6%)
Low—184,000 ha (30%)
* For additional information on the general habitat preferences of pest animal species, see Pest animal habitat; Source: Choquenot et al. 1996; Cooma Rural Lands Protection Board; DEC 2004c–e; DPI 2005; Fleming et al. 2001; Saunders et al. 1995; Williams et al. 1995.
According to DPI mapping (Table 2), fox distribution and abundance within the shire remained unchanged during the current reporting period. All other species increased in overall density within the shire during the same period. All species increased in overall distribution (between 1–8% of the shire area), except for foxes (which remained stable) and wild dogs (whose overall distribution decreased by 5% of the shire). The increase in wild deer during the reporting period is a trend consistent with many other regions.
|Pest animal species||Population density (% of council area)|
|Dingoes and wild dogs|
(Canis lupus familiaris, Canis lupus dingo and hybrids)
(Cervus spp, Dama dama and Axis spp)
|No density data recorded—0.5%||Medium—0.5%|
Source: DPI 2005; NSW Agriculture 1996; West and Saunders 2003.
Department of Environment and Conservation records indicate eight pest animal species—feral cats, goats, pigs, foxes, horse, rabbits, wild dogs and wild deer—were present in Kosciuszko National Park within Snowy River Shire. Approximately 32% of the park falls within the shire. No information was available regarding the occurrence of pest animals within the six nature reserves (Bobundara, Myalla, Ngadang, Nimmo, Paupong and Wullwye) that are located entirely within the shire (see below for a discussion of pest animal control activities).
Pest animals as threatening processes
The activities of six pest animal species in NSW that are present in Snowy River Shire have been listed as key threatening processes in the state (see Table 3) 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.
|Name of threatening process||Date 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 (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
The NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC—formerly NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service) undertook control programs for six pest animal species in the shire during the reporting period. Control programs for foxes, wild dogs, feral pigs, feral cats, feral goats and rabbits were undertaken within Kosciuszko National Park in the 2002–04 financial years. Although programs for feral goat, wild dog and feral cat control were undertaken within the shire, the location of control programs for the other pest animals within Kosciuszko National Park is not known. No information was available regarding pest animal control within Bobundara, Myalla, Ngadang, Nimmo, Paupong and Wullwye nature reserves for the current reporting period.
In 2002, 2003 and 2004 DEC undertook cooperative control programs for feral pigs and wild dogs in conjunction with Cooma Rural Lands Protection Board (RLPB), the Department of Primary Industries (DPI—Forests NSW), the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment and landholders within the shire. Private contractors, DEC and Cooma RLPB staff undertook control works for these programs. In 2001–2004 DEC also undertook an aerial pig shooting program within the Tantangara area within that part of Kosciuszko National Park located in the shire (NPWS 2001a, 2002, 2003).
In the years from 2001–2004, DEC undertook a successful program to control foxes at Charlotte Pass, all ski resorts on the Perisher Range and other areas of the main range within Kosciuszko National Park. Large numbers of foxes are attracted to artificial food sources in the vicinity of the ski resorts within the park during the ski season. When the ski season finishes, these food sources are greatly reduced and foxes switch to eating native animals including the threatened Mountain Pygmy Possum (Burramys parvus) and the Broad-toothed Rat (Mastacomys fuscus). This control program is designed to ameliorate the effects of this situation. In 2002 and 2003 DEC also targeted feral cats in ski resort areas within the park (NPWS 2001a, 2002, 2003). Both these programs are continuing.
Calicivirus and myxomatosis were reported to be relatively ineffective at controlling rabbit populations in the Tantangara and Kiandra areas of Kosciuszko National Park during 2002 and 2003. However increased 1080 baiting and the harshness of the winter conditions within these areas have improved the effectiveness of the rabbit control program (NPWS 2002, 2003).
In 2001 to 2003 feral goat populations were greatly reduced along the lower Snowy River within the shire by means of an aerial shooting program undertaken by DEC. DEC is also working with Cooma and Bombala RLPBs to control feral goats on adjoining private lands to prevent re-infestation of the park in this area (NPWS 2001a, 2002, 2003).
DEC has formed a steering committee to assist with the management of feral horses within Kosciuszko National Park. A Horse Management Plan was developed in 2003 for the park's alpine area and covers the period January 2003 to January 2005. Control methods to be trialled as part of the plan include trapping, roping and mustering. Three monitoring sites have been set up and include Big Boggy and Little Tin Mines Creek (O'Brien and Wren 2003).
Within the 2002–04 financial years DEC reported the presence of wild deer populations within Kosciuszko National Park. No control programs for them have been undertaken there; populations are reported as stable.
Considerable effort was made to control wild dogs in the shire during the reporting period. A wild dog advisory panel has been established which includes representatives from DEC, NSW Farmers' Association, DPI (NSW Agriculture), local landholders and the Cooma and Yass RLPBs. The role of this panel is to refine current management practices and increase effectiveness of control programs, while considering the impact on native species such as the Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus). The wild dog program involves trapping, baiting and shooting and covers approximately 70,000 ha within the Byadbo Wilderness Area in Kosciuszko National Park. As at the end of 2003, DEC was employing up to six contract dog trappers and three permanent staff. Sand pads used for monitoring animals indicated a significant reduction in wild dog activity during the implementation of this program (NPWS 2002, 2003).
Four cooperative wild dog and fox management plans cover the shire. They include:
- Adaminaby/Yaouk (Wild Dog/Fox Working Group 2004)
- Dalgety/Paupong (Wild Dog/Fox Working Group 2005)
- Rocky Plain, Snowy Plain (Wild Dog/Fox Working Group 2003a)
- Thredbo Ingebyra (Wild Dog/Fox Working Group 2003b).
The plans form part of a cooperative control program between DEC, landholders, Forests NSW, ACT Parks and Conservation and RLPBs. Two plans commenced during the reporting period—Thredbo Ingebyra and Rocky Plain, Snowy Plain. These plans commenced in July 2003 and are operational for three years. Their objectives include (Wild Dog/Fox Working Group 2003a, 2003b):
- to reduce the impact of Wild Dogs on private land
- to maintain a representative group of private and public land managers to coordinate Wild Dog/Fox management activities in the control area (the Wild Dog/Fox Working Group)
- to identify and use management techniques based on 'best practice'
- to recognise the management objectives of private landholders and the conservation objectives of public land managers
- to recognise the role of the dingo as a top order predator within ecosystems and the need for the conservation of dingoes in some areas of National Park estate
- to monitor the program to ensure an effective evaluation of the control activities can be undertaken during the implementation of the plan
- to monitor to assess the risk of wild dog activities on stock
- to regularly promote the progress of the program to the local community
- to ensure ongoing high-level support from public land managers to ensure the implementation of the control program for the next operation period.
- to coordinate control activities with neighbouring wild dog associations and RLPBs
- to monitor and control introduced Canids in order to reduce impacts on native fauna.
A trial cooperative project was undertaken which pre-empted the Rocky Plain, Snowy Plain Wild Dog plan. The results of this program for the 2001–02 and 200–03 financial years are shown in Table 4.
|Performance measure||Number of animals||Year|
|Sheep maimed or bitten||3||2001–02|
Source: Wild Dog/Fox Working Group (2003a, 2003b)
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 (formerly State Forests of 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).
DEC issued a number of licences to private landholders within the shire during the current reporting period to cull Eastern Grey Kangaroos on their properties. As a result of this program, at least 3,185 animals were culled for non-commercial purposes and 3,000 animals were culled for commercial purposes. Commercial culling has only been available in Snowy River Shire since January 2004, with the first licences being issued in March 2004.
Cooma Rural Lands Protection Board
Cooma RLPB has developed a Pest Animal and Insect Function Management Plan that covers all major pest species within its area of responsibility (Pest Animal Committee 2003). 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 pest animals that occur in Snowy River Shire, and strategies for achieving them, are shown in Table 5.
|Pest animal||Aims of control programs||Strategies|
|Deer||Reduce impact of wild deer within the district|
|Feral pig||Reduce pig infestations to low densities; Reduce the environmental and economic impact of this species in the Board district|
|Fox||Reduce fox numbers to a level such that they do not significantly affect lambing percentages and do not cause heavy predation on native species|
|Goat||Reduce the impact of feral goats within the district|
|Rabbit||Reduce environmental and economic impact of this species; Reduce infestations to low densities|
|Wild dog||Prevent the movement of wild dogs from Schedule 2 lands (predominantly conservation reserves); Reduce impacts on threatened fauna; Reduce the impact and economic loss to landholders|
Source: Pest Animal Committee 2003.
Control methods within the Board area focus predominantly on harbour destruction, fumigation, shooting and poisoning for rabbits, 1080 baiting using bait stations, ground baiting and aerial baiting and trapping for wild dogs, trapping, poisoning and shooting for feral pigs, and poisoning and shooting for foxes. Fox and wild dog control is undertaken by landholders, community groups, Cooma RLPB and State Government departments. Rabbit control is undertaken by landholders and Cooma RLPB, while feral pig control is undertaken solely by individuals.
Expenditure on and effectiveness of pest animal control
Cooma RLPB expenditure on pest animal control and outcomes of control programs within the shire are summarised in Table 6. Funding for the board's pest control programs for major pest animals within the shire was sourced predominantly from its rates with additional funding for wild dogs sourced through DEC and DPI (Forests NSW). Based on the area treated, 86% of wild dog control within the shire was undertaken by the RLPB in conjunction with DEC and DPI, while 13% was undertaken by Wild Dog associations (community groups) and a further 1% by landholders.
Rabbits decreased within the current reporting period due to the control measures undertaken. The extent to which the rabbit population reduction increased fox predation pressure on small native mammal species and ground-nesting birds in the shire is not known. Fox and feral pig numbers remained stable during the reporting period despite the control programs, although pigs increased their distribution within the shire. It is difficult to assess the impact of control programs on dingoes and wild dogs. While stock losses due to wild dogs decreased during the reporting period, the number of dogs killed increased.
No information was available on expenditure on feral pig, rabbit or fox control for the current reporting period.
|Pest animal species||Annual expenditure by RLPB||Source of funding||Outcome: change in|
abundance or spread
|Total area treated (ha) #|
|Dingoes and wild dogs
(Canis lupus familiaris, Canis lupus dingo and hybrids)
|2000–01||$37,100||Board rates, DEC, DPI (Forests NSW)||Very difficult to measure, stock losses have decreased but the number of dogs killed has increased.||122,960|
|N/A||Board rates||Unchanged—have spread over a larger area||Unknown|
|N/A||Board rates||Unchanged||29,680 #|
|N/A||Board rates||Reduced||265 #|
# Area treated includes control works by community groups and Cooma RLPB only; area treated by individuals is not known; N/A Figures not available for the current reporting period; Source: Cooma Rural Lands Protection Board
Expenditure on wild dog control as part of the Thredbo Ingebyra and Rocky Plain, Snowy Plain Wild Dog/Fox management plans for the 2003–03 financial year totalled approximately $156,400. This figure included funding for contractors, pest species officers, wild dog controllers and baits across the entire extents of the management areas. These wild dog management areas cover parts of both Tumbarumba and Snowy River shires and it is not known what proportion of this funding was expended in each shire (Wild Dog/Fox Working Group 2003a, 2003b).
About the data
Data were provided by Cooma Rural Lands Protection Board. The entire area of Snowy River Shire falls within the Cooma Rural Lands Protection Board administrative area; the shire comprises approximately 53% 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.
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.
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.
O'Brien, P and Wren, L (2003) Horse Management Plan for the Alpine Area of Kosciuszko National Park, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Jindabyne, NSW, viewed 19 May 2005, http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/PDFs/kosciuszko_wild_horse_management_plan.pdf.
Pest Animal Committee (2003) Cooma Rural Lands Protection Board Pest Animal and Insect Function Management Plan for 2004, Cooma Rural Land Protection Board, Cooma.
Saunders, G, Coman, B, Kinnear, J and Braysher, M (1995) Managing Vertebrate Pests: Foxes, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
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.
Wild Dog/Fox Working Group (2003a) 3 Year Cooperative Wild Dog/Fox Plan: Rocky Plain Snowy Plain, Operational Period 1st July 2003–30th June 2006, Department of Environment and Conservation, Jindabyne.
Wild Dog/Fox Working Group (2003b) 3 Year Cooperative Wild Dog/Fox Plan: Thredbo Ingebyra, Operational Period 1st July 2003–30th June 2006, Department of Environment and Conservation, Jindabyne.
Wild Dog/Fox Working Group (2004) 1 Year Cooperative Wild Dog/Fox Plan: Adaminaby / Yaouk Wild Dog Association Area, Operational Period 1st July 2004–30th June 2005, Department of Environment and Conservation, Tumut.
Wild Dog/Fox Working Group (2005) 2 Year Cooperative Wild Dog/Fox Plan: Dalgety / Paupong. Operational Period 1st July 2005–30 June 2007, Department of Environment and Conservation, Jindabyne.
Williams, CK, Parer, I, Coman, BJ, Burley, J and Braysher, ML (1995) Managing Vertebrate Pests: Rabbits, Bureau of Resource Sciences/CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Ecology, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.