State of the Environment Report title
2 0 0 4

2004 Report



Young

Pest Animals

Indicator description

Results for this indicator are also available for  

What the results tell us for Young

| Infestations | Pests as threats | Control activities |

Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were the main pest animals in Young Shire during the reporting period, although another two types of animals were considered pests.

The Young Rural Lands Protection Board and NSW Department of Environment and Conservation undertook control programs for rabbits and foxes. Fox populations within the shire appeared to remain stable during the current reporting period, while rabbit populations were reduced due to the introduction of the calicivirus.

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).

Four types of animals were reported to be pests in Young Shire during the reporting period: rabbits, foxes, wild deer (Cervus spp, Dama dama and Axis spp) and goats (Capra hircus). Their location, abundance and distribution are summarised in Table 1, and changes in their distribution and population density summarised in Table 2. Isolated occurrences of wild dogs (Canis lupus familiaris, Canis lupus dingo and hybrids), feral pigs (Sus scrofa) and feral cats (Felix catus) were also reported.

Foxes occurred relatively evenly throughout the shire at a density of approximately four animals per 100 hectares; this equates to roughly 10,300 foxes within the area. Rabbits were present in low densities over approximately 25% of the shire, while goats and deer were each estimated to occur in medium and low densities (respectively) over about 2% of the shire area.

The Young Rural Lands Protection Board (Young RLPB) had no reports of locusts (Chortoicetes terminifera), wingless grasshoppers (Phaulacridium vittatum) or mice (Mus musculus) within the current reporting period. Locust infestations were recorded in the shire towards the end of the last reporting period (OCE 2000).

Table 1. Pest animal species within Young Shire, 30 June 2004
SpeciesPreferred habitats in shire*Distribution and density (high, medium or low) (% of council area)
Fox
(Vulpes vulpes)
Scattered throughout shire on predominantly native and modified pastures and cropping areas interspersed with fragmented native forest and woodland.269,000 ha total distribution, covering 100% of shire at approximately 4 animals per square km.
High—265,500 ha (99%)
Medium—3,500 ha (1%)
Goats
(Capra hircus)
North-eastern part of shire in rugged country predominantly on native forest and woodland.6,500 ha total distribution, covering about 2% of shire at medium densities.
Rabbit
(Oryctolagus cuniculus)
Eastern part of shire. Occur in all habitats, but prefer areas of woodland or native and modified grasslands.66,000 ha total distribution, covering about 25% of shire at low densities.
Wild deer
(Cervus spp, Dama dama and Axis spp)
North-eastern part of shire in areas of remnant vegetation interspersed with native and modified grasslands.5,700 ha total distribution, covering about 2% of shire at low densities.

* For additional information on the general habitat preferences of pest animal species, see Pest animal habitat; Source: DEC 2004e; DPI 2005; Saunders et al. 1995; Williams et al. 1995; Young Rural Lands Protection Board.

According to DPI mapping (Table 2), feral goat populations redistributed within their range within the shire and increased in density between 1996 and 2002. Rabbit populations contracted in range between 1996 and 2002. Rabbit densities, however, remained constant across all years. A small low-density population of feral pigs was recorded in 1996 but no pigs were recorded in 2002 and 2004, indicating no significant pig populations occur in the shire. Feral deer and fox distribution and abundance remained unchanged during the current reporting period.

Table 2. Mapped pest animal distributions within Young Shire, 1996, 2002 and 2004
Pest animal speciesPopulation density (% of council area)
199620022004
Dingoes and wild dogs
(Canis lupus familiaris, Canis lupus dingo and hybrids)
None recordedNone recordedNone recorded
Feral goats
(Capra hircus)
Low—0.6% Medium—2% Medium—2%
Feral pigs
(Sus scrofa)
Low—2% None recordedNone recorded
Foxes
(Vulpes vulpes)
Not mappedHigh—98%
Medium—1%
Low—1%
High—99%
Medium—1%
Rabbits
(Oryctolagus cuniculus)
Medium—3%
Low—28%
Low—25% Low—25%
Wild deer
(Cervus spp, Dama dama and Axis spp)
No density data recorded—2%Low—2% Low—2%

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

Approximately 63% of Koorawatha Nature Reserve and the entire extent of Dananbilla Nature Reserve fall within the shire. Moderate populations of cats and foxes occurred across the entire areas of both nature reserves within the shire. A moderate-density population of rabbits was associated with about 0.05% of Koorawatha Nature Reserve and a low-density population with about 1% of Dananbilla Nature Reserve. A moderate-density goat population ranged across the entire area of Koorawatha Nature Reserve. All these populations were reported as being stable between the 2002–03 and 2003–04 financial years, despite some control programs for two of the species by the Department of Environment and Conservation.

Pest animals as threatening processes

The activities of six pest animal species in NSW that are present in Young 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.

Table 3. Listed threatening processes in NSW that relate to pest animals in Young Shire
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 Feral 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

Department of Environment and Conservation

In the 2003–04 financial year, the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC—formerly NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service) undertook control programs for foxes and rabbits within Koorawatha Nature Reserve. Between 2001 and 2004, DEC also implemented a significant rabbit control program within Dananbilla Nature Reserve (NPWS 2001a, 2002, 2003). No figures were available regarding expenditure on control programs or changes in pest abundance due to control measures.

No control programs were undertaken for the feral cat and feral goat populations reported to occur within the above two nature reserves during the 2002–04 financial years.

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 9,368 animals were culled for non-commercial purposes.

Young Rural Lands Protection Board

Young RLPB has developed a Pest Animal and Insect Function Management Plan that covers all major pest species within its area of responsibility (Young RLPB 2005). 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 Young RLPB's control programs for the two main pest animals in Young Shire, and strategies for achieving them, are summarised in Table 4.

Table 4. Young Rural Land Protection Board control program objectives and strategies
Pest animalAims of control programsStrategies
FoxTo reduce the prevalence and impact of Fox predation on properties in the Board district
  • raise awareness of damage caused by foxes and control methods
  • encourage increased group baiting programs
  • encourage participation in the Outfox the Fox program
RabbitTo minimise the impact of rabbits on all lands within the Board district
  • undertake control and eradication programs in areas of high prevalence
  • undertake regular inspections of properties
  • maintain close contact with landholders, particularly those in areas of high prevalence
  • raise awareness of problems caused by rabbits, particularly with new ratepayers
  • assess the prevalence of rabbits on all properties

Rabbit control methods within the Board area focus predominantly on harbour destruction and poisoning, whereas fox control methods focus solely on 1080 baiting. Fox and rabbit control is undertaken predominantly by landholders, with the Board undertaking minor control works. No rabbit control within the shire was undertaken by community groups within the current reporting period.

Young RLPB continued the 'Outfox the Fox' program in Young Shire during the current reporting period. The program has been very successful in enhancing community awareness and increasing the baiting program across a wider area. Although the program initially involved only the Board and local Footrot groups, in recent years local Landcare groups have also become involved in the program.

Isolated occurrences of other pest animal species in the shire were dealt with on a case-by-case basis. No official control programs were required for wild dogs, feral pigs and cats during the current reporting period.

Expenditure on and effectiveness of pest animal control

Young RLPB expenditure on pest animal control and outcomes of control programs within the shire are summarised in Table 5. The board's pest control program funding was sourced from its rates.

Sixty-two per cent of the board's total expenditure was for rabbit control, covering the north-eastern portion of the board area. Due to the introduction of the calicivirus, the rabbit control program resulted in an overall reduction in rabbit numbers during the current reporting period. Despite an extensive fox control program being in place for the shire, fox abundance appeared to remain unchanged over the same time. 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.

Table 5. Expenditure on pest animal control within Young Shire, July 2000 to June 2004
Pest animal speciesAnnual expenditure by RLPBSource of fundingOutcome: change in
abundance or spread
Total area treated (ha)
YearAmount
Fox
(Vulpes vulpes)
2000–01$6,000Board ratesNo reduction in the past 5 yearsunknown
2001–02$6,000
2002–03$6,000
2003–04$6,000
Rabbit
(Oryctolagus cuniculus)
2000–01$15,000Board ratesSome reduction in rabbit populations due to the introduction of calicivirusunknown
2001–02$16,500
2002–03$23,310
2003–04$23,310
Other# 2000–01$4,500Board ratesOnly isolated incidences of other pest animals recordedunknown
2001–02$6,000
2002–03$6,660
2003–04$6,000

# May include animals such as feral pigs, feral cats, wild dogs, mice and deer; Source: Young Rural Lands Protection Board

About the data

Data were provided by Young Rural Lands Protection Board. Approximately 99.7% of Young Shire falls within the Young Rural Lands Protection Board administrative area; the shire comprises approximately 30% 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 on 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.

References

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 Declaratio, 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)

NPWS—see NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

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

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, view 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.

OCE—see Office of the Commissioner for the Environment

Office of the Commissioner for the Environment (2000) Australian Capital Region State of the Environment Report 2000, Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, Canberra.

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.

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.

Young RLPB—see Young Rural Lands Protection Board

Young Rural Lands Protection Board (2005) Pest Animal and Insect Function Management Plan 2005, Young Rural Land Protection Board, Young.