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Publications archive - Biodiversity


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Review of existing Red Fox, Wild Dog, Feral Cat, Feral Rabbit, Feral Pig, and Feral Goat control in Australia. I. Audit

Ben Reddiex, David M. Forsyth, Eve McDonald-Madden, Luke D. Einoder, Peter A. Griffioen, Ryan R. Chick, and Alan J. Robley.
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2004

Executive Summary

Project and client

Red foxes, wild dogs, feral cats, feral rabbits, feral pigs, and feral goats separately and in various combinations are believed to be responsible for the extinction or decline of a wide range of native species and for adverse changes in ecological communities in Australia. Predation by foxes and feral cats are key threatening under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), whilst competition with native species and land degradation by feral rabbits, feral pigs and feral goats are also listed as key threatening processes under that Act. The belief that pest animals have caused declines in native species (and damaged production values) is reflected in legislation and has led to many attempts to control these pests. Many agencies and organisations including Federal, State and Local governments commit significant resources managing these species. However, there is limited hard evidence that this management has led to a reduction in threats and to a reversal in the decline.

The Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) commissioned the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research to undertake a project aimed at increasing the understanding on whether control of foxes, wild dogs, feral cats, feral rabbits, feral pigs, and feral goats lead to a reduction in threats to native species and ecological communities. The project is being completed in three stages. This report is the first stage, and details an audit of existing pest animal control activities in Australia. Future stages include identification of gaps in information on control activities and recommendations for filling these gaps (see Reddiex and Forsyth 2004), development of pest species monitoring protocols, and designing a process to determine priority ranking for control of pest animals in order to minimise threats to native species and ecological communities.


The objectives of this study were:





Until the following are enacted our knowledge of the costs and benefits of pest animal control for native species will remain unreliable:

  1. The benefits and costs to native species and ecological communities of pest animal control need to be determined using study designs that include replicated and where possible randomly allocated treatment and non-treatment areas, and adequate monitoring of changes in the abundance of both pests and resources. We recommend focusing on a limited number of properly designed experiments (i.e., "evaluation" sites).
  2. Contracts for the delivery of pest animal control must stipulate strict conditions about the design of the control program and its associated monitoring programs and reporting. At the least, actions should include pre- and post-control monitoring of the abundance of the pest animal and conservation resources being protected, and if at all possible include one or more non-treatment areas.
  3. Federal and State/Territory agencies should design and implement pest animal control operations with the intention of undertaking meta-analysis on the key outcomes of the operations.
  4. Standard protocols are required for estimating: (i) the kill rate of pest animals and native species during control operations, and (ii) the absolute or relative abundance of pest animals and conservation resources.
  5. Organisations/funding bodies need to collate and store data from pest animal control operations and any associated monitoring in a way that is both accessible to managers and amenable to future meta-analysis.
  6. Impediments to the incorporation of experimental design principles in pest animal control programs should be investigated to ensure future control programs are driven by reliable knowledge.