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Feral goats targeted in Western Australia to save local biodiversity

22/04/2009 14:16:57

Feral goats have ben destroting the native flora and fauna in Kalbarri National Park

Goats targeted in Western Australia's Kalbarri National Park

April 2009. Feral goats infesting Kalbarri National Park have been targeted in a culling operation to protect fragile plant and animal communities in the unique Murchison Gorge system. A total of 380 goats were culled by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) over five days in March, a time of year when goats are concentrated along the Murchison Gorge and when visitor numbers are at seasonal lows.

Alien species have driven out native flora and fauna
The shooting operation reflects DEC's ongoing commitment to goat control in Kalbarri National Park and was made possible with funding from DEC's Biodiversity Conservation Initiative. DEC scientist Dr David Pearson said it was vital to reduce goat numbers to allow flora and fauna in the park to recover from their grazing.

Areas fenced from goats show how much destruction they cause.

Areas fenced from goats show how much destruction they cause.

Black footed rock wallaby
"It is hoped that the success of recent control operations will reduce goat numbers to such an extent that black-footed rock wallabies can be returned to their former rocky habitats along the Murchison River," Dr Pearson said. "The rock wallaby, which has not been seen in the park for over 15 years, has been driven to local extinction in Kalbarri due to the combined effects of fox predation and habitat destruction by goats.

"Fox baiting is undertaken regularly in the park and the ongoing control of goats should permit the eventual return of rock-wallabies, as well as other fauna."

An aerial survey to be undertaken next August will provide an indication of goat numbers across the park and nearby properties. Mr Paxman said study sites have been fenced to exclude goats, and monitoring has confirmed that goats are having a significant impact on the park's vegetation.

"Goats remove palatable plants resulting in increases of spiny shrubs and they heavily graze regrowth," he said. "Their control will be a vital step in the process of rehabilitating the fauna and flora of Kalbarri National Park."

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