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Feral animal control – who’s responsible?

Feral animal control – who’s responsible?

Members of the Mambo Wanda Wetlands Reserves and Landcare Committee have called for more funding to eradicate feral animals that prey on indigenous fauna in Council bushland reserves.

The members are concerned that current funding is inadequate for the effective management of the reserves. In its response, Port Stephens Council stated that its resources were impacted by the current COVID-19 restrictions and this included pest animal control.

The Landcare members wrote to Mayor Ryan Palmer and councillors calling for representation to source funding for surveillance and eradication. They said that ‘to maintain our image and appeal as a shire where the bushland reserves are valued and protected for flora and fauna, funding is essential’. 

There is constant pressure on native wildlife where domestic animals are not controlled, dogs roam off-leash and cats are outside especially at night. More difficult to control are introduced foxes, which have contributed to the extinction of small mammals in other parts of Australia. Foxes have been spotted in the Mambo Wetlands on numerous occasions.

Council says it prioritises programs based on the environmental and social impact that can be achieved and pointed to the Medowie and Heatherbrae rabbit control programs. It coordinates this program which includes assistance from around 60 private property owners, State government agencies and local schools as well as funding from the Hunter Valley Flood Mitigation Scheme. EcoNetwork understands that property owners are paying professional shooters to suppress rabbit populations.

According to the Invasive Species Council, rabbits have been ranked with foxes and cats as among Australia’s worst pests.

Although Council agrees that foxes and other feral animals have a devastating impact on native wildlife, it continues to blame inaction on limited resources. The Landcare members were referred to Council’s Natural Resources team to discuss potential grant funding for the proposed works within Mambo Wetlands. Unfortunately this team and its annual budget is already stretched to meet other urgent demands.

There must be other sources of funding that Council has access to – including State government pest management budget, other agencies or even corporate support.  Permits are required to set traps and undertake specialised types of surveys often requiring expensive equipment. This is something that the volunteer landcare group is neither equipped for nor qualified to undertake.

If anyone has any ideas of where to seek funding and professional support, please contact the Mambo Wanda Wetlands Reserves and Landcare Committee.

Published: 4 Oct 2021