Feral goats removed in the Adelaide Hills

News article |

In a recent four-day aerial operation, over 500 feral goats were removed across 2,000 hectares of private and public land around Montacute and Cudlee Creek, with the aim of reducing grazing pressure and eradicating the pest from the region.

Coordinated by Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu through its Regional Grazing Pressure Management Program, the operational area included ForestrySA, SA Water, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) land and 19 private properties. It was the most successful operation since the program began in 2020, largely due to the support from private landholders adjoining the government-owned land.

Funding for this operation was provided by the Australian and South Australian Governments through the Local Economic Recovery Program under the Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. SA Water also provided funding towards the operation.

Tom Kloeden, Regional Coordinator for Grazing Pressure Management, explained how the operations are undertaken and the benefits they provide to the local environment and agriculture.

“We regularly undertake control operations from both the air and ground in the region to manage an increasing environmental and agricultural challenge. Grazing pressure from introduced herbivores has substantial impacts on primary production, water catchments, native vegetation and threatened flora and fauna. These feral goats are essentially escaped farm animals that have settled in inaccessible areas and due to a lack of natural predators have bred up over several decades. Removing them from the landscape prevents further impacts, and in this location supports landscape recovery following the Cudlee Creek bushfire. Monitoring has shown a strong recovery of native vegetation in areas where goat control has occurred, as a result of the reduced grazing pressure.

“For this operation, we used 20 hours of helicopter flight time and removed 544 feral goats, and 2 fallow deer. Aerial shooting is cost effective, and the operations only take a few days so any disturbance in the area is minimised. The procedures used, ensure the humane control of the target animals, and meet all animal welfare and safety requirements.

“The support of private landholders to allow access to their land made this operation particularly successful. We had 19 private landholders on board this year, compared to four last year, increasing the operational area by 600 hectares. We are aware of other satellite populations of feral goats outside of the areas covered in the aerial shooting operation and we will follow these up with ground shooting and trapping operations where appropriate.

“The Regional Grazing Pressure Management Program aims to locally eradicate all known feral goat populations within the Hills and Fleurieu region. This is a realistic objective, but consistency is the key considering feral goats have a high population growth rate, increasing by up to 65-70 per cent each year.

“We discovered far fewer goats in some of the areas targeted through last year’s control program, which gives us confidence that the program is working, and encourage landholders and the general public to report any sightings of feral goats and deer at www.feralscan.org.au. This will help us understand where sub-populations are residing and how to best plan our programs,” said Mr Kloeden.

You can find out more about Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu’s Regional Grazing Pressure Management program and access useful resources, updates and links here.

The Local Economic Recovery Program is a partnership between the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions.

The Regional Grazing Pressure Management program is funded through the Landscape Levy and Department for Environment and Water’s National Parks and Wildlife Service in partnership with 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.

Feral goats removed in the Adelaide Hills
Feral goats and deer cost the agricultural industry millions of dollars each year and pose a significant threat to biodiversity and landscape health. They have no natural predators in the Hills and Fleurieu. This, combined with their fast reproductive rate, means they are very high in number, and need to be controlled.

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