Managing vertebrate pests




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3rd Draft SEPTEMBER 1995

Bureau of Resource Sciences

and


Australian Nature Conservation Agency

MANAGING VERTEBRATE PESTS:


FERAL GOATS

John Parkes1, Robert Henzell2, and Greg Pickles3


Scientific editing by Mary Bomford4
1 Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, New Zealand

2 Animal and Plant Control Commission, South Australia


3 Agriculture Western Australia, Western Australia
4 Bureau of Resource Sciences, Canberra

Australian Government Publishing Service

Canberra

FOREWORD
This publication, which is one in a series, provides land managers with best practice national guidelines for managing the agricultural and environmental damage caused by feral goats. Others in the series include guidelines for managing feral horses, rabbits, foxes, feral pigs and rodents. The publication was developed and funded by the Vertebrate Pest Program in the Bureau of Resource Sciences, and the Feral Pests Program in the Australian Nature Conservation Agency.
To ensure that the guidelines are widely accepted as the basis for feral goat management, comment has been sought from State, Territory and Commonwealth government agriculture, environmental, and resource management agencies. Comments were also sought from land managers and community and other organisations, including the Australian Conservation Foundation, the National Farmers’ Federation, the National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare, the Australian Veterinary Association, the Northern Aboriginal Land Council, and four research and development corporations. The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Resource Management has endorsed the approach to managing feral goat damage set out in these guidelines.
Farmers have a problem with feral goats because they compete with livestock and contribute to land degradation. Conservation authorities are also concerned about the role of feral goats in land degradation, and their impacts on native plants and animals, through competition, grazing and browsing. Quarantine authorities need to manage the risk that feral goats could be involved in exotic disease outbreaks, such as foot and mouth disease or scrapie, should such diseases enter Australia. On the other hand, feral goats are valued by those who harvest them commercially or hunt them recreationally. The authors have attempted to take all these divergent views and objectives into account in compiling the guidelines.
The principles underlying the strategic management of vertebrate pests have been described in Managing Vertebrate Pests: Principles and Strategies (Braysher 1993). The emphasis is on the management of pest damage rather than on simply reducing pest density. The guidelines recommend that wherever practical, management should concentrate on achieving clearly defined conservation or agricultural production benefits.
These guidelines will help land managers reduce damage to agriculture and the natural environment caused by feral goats through the use of scientifically-based management that is humane, cost-effective, and integrated with ecologically sustainable land management.

Peter O’Brien

Executive Director

Bureau of Resource Sciences




CONTENTS


CONTENTS iii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS vi

SUMMARY 1

INTRODUCTION 7

1. HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION AND SPREAD 11

Summary 11

1.1 Goats as emergency food 11

1.2 Goats as domestic livestock 11

1.3 Establishment of feral herds 12

2. DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE 13

Summary 13

2.1 World distribution of goats 13

2.2 Distribution of feral goats in Australia 13

2.3 Abundance of feral goats in Australia 16

2.4 Factors influencing distribution and abundance 16



3. BIOLOGY 22

Summary 22

3.1 The ancestry of feral goats 22

3.2 Body weight 23

3.3 Breeding season 23

3.4 Population dynamics 24

3.5 Diet 26

3.6 Movements and home ranges 26

3.7 Social behaviour 26

3.8 Parasites and diseases 27



4. ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS AND COMMERCIAL USE 28

Summary 28

4.1 Economic losses 28

4.2 Environmental impacts 30

4.3 Resource value and commercial use 35

4.4 Implications of goat harvesting for damage control 36



5. COMMUNITY ATTITUDES TO FERAL GOAT MANAGEMENT 38

Summary 38

5.1 Aboriginal perceptions 38

5.2 Pastoralists 39

5.3 Conservation groups 39

5.4 Animal welfare concerns 39

5.5 Domestic goat farmers 41

5.6 Goat meat industry 41



6. PAST AND CURRENT MANAGEMENT 42

Summary 42

6.1 Past management 42

6.2 Current legal status of feral goats 42

6.3 Current management of feral goats 43

7. TECHNIQUES TO MEASURE AND MANAGE ABUNDANCE AND IMPACTS 48

Summary 48

7.1 Measuring abundance 48

7.2 Measuring impact 52

7.3 Control techniques 55

8. THE STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT APPROACH AT THE LOCAL AND REGIONAL LEVEL 65

Summary 65

8.1 Economic frameworks 66

8.2 Strategic approach 67

8.3 Defining the problem 67

8.4 Management plan 67

8.5 Implementation 80

8.6 Monitoring and evaluation 80

8.7 Case study - Western Australia 81

8.8 Case study - Flinders Ranges 84



9. IMPLEMENTING A MANAGEMENT PROGRAM 95

Summary 95

9.1 Organising stakeholders for action 95

9.2 Around the states 96

9.3 Partnerships are needed 97

9.4 Stakeholders 98

9.5 Identification of goals 99

9.6 Government involvement 99

9.7 Facilitation of effective groups 100

10. DEFICIENCIES IN KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICE 102

Summary 102

10.1 Introduction 102

10.2 Future introductions and spread 102

10.3 Distribution and abundance 102

10.4 Biology 103

10.5 Economic and environmental impacts 103

10.6 Animal welfare concerns 104

10.7 Current management 104

10.8 Techniques to measure goat abundance 105

10.9 Control techniques 105

10.10 Ranking conservation management units for control 105

10.11 Integrating risk management 107

10.12 Implementation 107



REFERENCES 108

APPENDIX A 119

Effect of feral goats on the value of stock production in pastoral areas 119



APPENDIX B 121

Best practice extension in pest management 121



APPENDIX C 124

Economic strategies for feral goat management 124



ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS 129



GLOSSARY
FIGURES
Figure 1 The strategic approach to managing feral goat damage.
Figure 2 Distribution of feral goats in Australia.
Figure 3 Cost per goat killed at different densities of feral goats in the Kaimai Range, 1977-84.
Figure C1 Possible relationships between goat density and the damage they cause.
Figure C2 Marginal analysis plotting cost of goat damage and goat control against level of control activity.
TABLES
Table 1 Estimated numbers of feral goats between 1982 and 1993.
Table 2 Number of domestic goats in Australia.
Table 3 Monthly pattern of conceptions in goats at Canegrass.
Table 4 Status of the feral goat in Australia
Table 5 Costs and effort of some aerial goat control operations.
Table 6 Expected population growth of goats with no harvesting.

NB: All dollar values have been converted to 1994–95 Australian dollars unless otherwise stated in the text.

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