Feral goats and deer firmly in sights of Landscape Board
The Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board is leading a long-term program to reduce the environmental and agricultural impacts caused by feral goats and deer across the region.
The Regional Grazing Pressure Management program is funded through the Landscape Levy and is being delivered in partnership with the Department for Environment and Water’s National Parks and Wildlife Service, Green Adelaide, ForestrySA, SA Water, and private landholders, to control feral goats and deer, which are declared pests under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019.
Tom Kloeden, Regional Coordinator for Grazing Pressure Management at the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board, said the program uses a coordinated approach in priority areas to deliver reductions in the populations of both feral goats and deer.
“Grazing pressure, particularly from feral goats and deer, has substantial impacts on primary production, water catchments, native vegetation and threatened flora and fauna and this program is using a strategic and coordinated approach to managing the issue.
“We are using a combination of staff-led operations, specialist contractors and volunteers to deliver the program, which is very much targeted at the long-term eradication of feral goats from the Hills and Fleurieu region,” he said.
A recent two-day aerial goat control operation in Montacute, covering 1400 ha of Forestry SA, SA Water, and DEW land, as well as four private properties, resulted in the removal of 323 feral goats and 6 deer, using 10 hours of helicopter flight time. A further 110 goats were removed by trapping and ground shooting. In 2021, the aerial operation in Montacute covered 800ha and resulted in the removal of 454 feral goats. This site has been a particularly important focus following the Cudlee Creek bushfire, due to the feral goat’s ability to impact regenerating native vegetation and erode fragile soils.
Control operations are also undertaken at various priority sites across the Hills and Fleurieu as sub-populations are identified.
“Consistency is the key to ensure that local eradication of goats can be achieved. Over the last few years more than 1900 feral goats have been removed from an initial surveyed population of over 2000. The positive rebound of native vegetation has been confirmed though monitoring and farmers are reporting fewer feral goats on their properties.
“There is still a lot of work to do, goats have a fast reproductive rate, increasing in population by up to 65-70% each year. While we are managing to remove a substantial number of goats each year, their populations regenerate very quickly, particularly given the lack of natural predators in our region. A sustained, integrated effort will be required to reach our local eradication target,” said Mr Kloeden.
“We encourage landholders or the general public to report any sightings of feral goats or deer at www.feralscan.org.au which will trigger an alert to our team and help us understand where sub-populations are residing and how to best plan our programs. Alternatively, contact the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board office on 8391 7500.”
The board also has a webpage dedicated to the Regional Grazing Pressure Management program which has useful resources, updates and links.