The control of the pest animals across the state continues to be a key issue for CWA of NSW. This is especially so in drought times as competition for feed increases and we, as farmers, witness the death of feral animals in inhumane conditions as they search for water and feed. CWA of NSW were pleased to be able to provide a submission recently on three key pests, being feral goats, deer and pigs to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications.
Some issues that the committee will be looking at include the current and potential occurrence of feral deer, pigs and goats across Australia as well as the likely and potential biosecurity risks and impacts of feral deer, pigs and goats on the environment, agriculture, community safety and other values. Importantly, the committee will also look at the effectiveness of current state and national laws, policies and practices in limiting spread and mitigating impacts of these ferals.
It will be important for the committee to consider how pest control can be improved by better coordination and a tenure-blind approach. A national threat abatement program would go some way towards addressing the inconsistencies we see in control approaches and timing. Any plan should come with significant additional resources for control and coordination, and should also include strong reporting requirements to ensure that a collaborative approach is actually practically adopted.
Our members report varying levels of pressure from all of the pest animals being considered in this enquiry across the state; however the common theme appears to be that they are overall increasing in most locations. Deer in particular are being seen in many areas where they have not been located before. Not within the scope of the review but important to point out also is the huge increase in kangaroo numbers, particularly in the Western Division but also state wide. Although the inquiry does not look at kangaroo numbers specifically, it would be pertinent that their numbers are considered in relation to any impacts that this may have on the population of goats, deer and pigs.
One of the most important issues that we hope to see the committee consider is the ridiculous situation we have in NSW where deer are given special status compared to all other feral animals. Granted, there have been some exemptions granted in some local government areas that mean the control of these destructive pests is easier, but what’s the hold up in declaring these animals for what they are across the whole state? A pest!
Biosecurity risk is but one impact to consider when looking at the costs of escalating number of these feral animals. These animals also have other, sometimes more significant economic and safety impacts by way of destroying crops and pastures, infrastructure and posing a risk to human safety.
- Tanya Jolly is the Country Women’s Association of NSW state agricultural and environmental officer.