ACT State of the Environment 2007

Indicator: Pest animals

Summary

Pest animals in the ACT continue to have harmful effects on native biodiversity and rural productivity and, in some instances, are nuisances or hazards to humans. The ACT Vertebrate Pest Management Strategy (ACT Government 2002) forms the basis for vertebrate pest control in the ACT. Introduction of the Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005 was an important initiative in the reporting period. The Act strengthens the Territory's ability to deal with pest animals that are already present as well as those that have the potential to become established if introduced.

As the information for particular pest animals in this indicator shows, pest animal management is constantly evolving: new pest species emerge (e.g. deer); others rapidly establish (e.g. European wasp); some rapidly develop resistance to control methods (e.g. rabbits); some increase in abundance after many years of satisfactory control (e.g. pigs); some may perform an important role in the ecosystems of which they have become a part (e.g. dingoes/wild dogs). Animal welfare and divergent community views are also significant aspects of pest animal management (e.g. feral horses). An active community-based pest animal initiative in the ACT is the Common Myna trapping program organised through the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group.

From 2007–08 vertebrate pest control in the ACT will be guided by a 5-year plan. Such an approach is important in pest animal control where continuity and follow up are important to the success of programs.

What the results tell us about the ACT

The impacts of pest animals on biodiversity are inter-related with other factors, such as changed fire regimes, climatic conditions (especially drought) and changes to habitat (e.g. decline of woodland trees). These impacts are generally difficult to quantify. Once pest animals are established, eradication is rarely possible. Pest animal control requires ongoing funding commitment and programs must be adaptive to changing circumstances.

Pest animals established in the ACT include mammals (feral cats, goats, pigs and deer, as well as foxes, rabbits and wild dogs), fish (Carp, Oriental Weatherloach, Redfin, Goldfish) and birds (Common Myna, Common blackbird, Common Starling). Incursions of small numbers of feral horses occur in the southwest of the ACT from the adjoining Kosciuszko National Park. The European wasp (Vespula germanica) is now firmly established, including in remote natural areas such as the upper Cotter Catchment. Under continuing dry conditions, management of Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) populations on some land in the ACT has become a contentious issue. There are a number of species that although not widely established require control in particular locations, such as feral ducks and geese in aquatic and wetland areas.

The strategic approach to vertebrate pest management adopted in the ACT was affected in the reporting period by the devastating 2003 bushfire and the restructure in 2006 of the agency administering and coordinating the program. The latter resulted in staff changes and lack of continuity. While the overall program has continued, progress towards some objectives has been slow and some specific tasks (e.g. preparation of pest management plans for declared pest animal species) have not commenced. Despite these setbacks, control programs were undertaken for most identified pest species.

Pest management strategy

The ACT Vertebrate Pest Management Strategy (ACT Government 2002) forms the basis for vertebrate pest control in the ACT. An annual program report outlines pest management activities for the preceding year and scheduled activities for the coming year. An important part of the strategy is preventing new exotic species establishing in the wild; early management of emerging pest species is, therefore, a priority of the program. The principles of the strategy and steps in a strategic approach to managing established vertebrate pests are also generally applicable to invertebrates.

From 2007–08 vertebrate pest control in the ACT will be guided by a 5-year plan. This will be founded on the principles set out in the ACT Vertebrate Pest Management Strategy. The 5-year plan will promote better continuity of control programs (necessary for sustained pest management) and reduce the annual administration of the program to an annual report/review document. The plan and annual reports will be made available on the ACT Department of Territory and Municipal Services website.

While the new enacted legislation and the revised pest management strategy are welcome, there is little evidence that control programs are being evaluated for their effectiveness or if alternative programs have been considered or trialed. Over the next reporting period (2007–11) this deficiency will need to be addressed by agencies and landholders.  The next state of the environment report will examine programs focused on achieving pest control, biodiversity conservation, and catchment management objectives

Legislation

Introduction of the Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005 has improved the Territory's ability to protect land and aquatic resources from threats posed by pest animals. ACT declared pest animals are listed in the Pest Plants and Animals (Pest Animals) Declaration 2005 (No 1). Under the Act, some listed species are declared as notifiable or prohibited (i.e. supply and keeping prohibited). The latter category is aimed specifically at those species not occurring in the ACT but having the potential to become established if introduced (e.g. most of the fish species on the list).

The Act provides for preparation of a pest animal management plan for a declared pest species. Such a plan is a statutory document (being a notifiable instrument under the Legislation Act 2001). Preparation of pest animal management plans for species that have been declared as pest animals under Schedule 1 of the Act will commence in 2007–08 with a plan for dingoes/wild dogs.

Potential new invasive species

The State of the Environment Report 2003 referred to two potential pest species not yet established in the ACT: the Red-eared Slider Turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) and the Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta). Both species are notifiable and prohibited unPest Plants and Animals Act 2005.

Red-eared Slider Turtle: This American species is kept illegally in Australia and has become an invasive feral pest in several states. Closely related species are also kept illegally. The turtle is very aggressive, and will successfully compete for food and space in waterways and lake systems to the detriment of native species. Large specimens can inflict a painful bite and males have long sharp front claws. Red-eared Slider Turtles were imported as aquarium pets in the 1960s and 1970s and many were subsequently released into the wild. Escaped or abandoned pets now have the potential to cause significant environmental damage.

Biologists are concerned that the species could become established in the ACT: in 2003 a Red-eared Slider Turtle was found on the Belconnen Golf Course and handed in to the National Zoo and Aquarium. Other unconfirmed sightings in the same area followed. Parks Conservation and Lands (Territory and Municipal Services) investigated reported sightings and where the turtle was found trapped and netted intensively. However, only native turtles were found and no further sightings of the Red-eared Slider Turtle have been reported. A public information campaign was initiated including website information, a poster, a pamphlet drop and press releases. This case demonstrates the value of early and decisive intervention when new pest animals are detected.

Red Imported Fire Ant: This species, known to inflict a painful sting, has had a major impact on agricultural production, rural assets and biodiversity in the United States, since its introduction from South America, and similar impacts could be expected in Australia should the species become widespread (Moloney and Vanderwoude 2002). In Australia, the ant is currently known to occur only in southeastern and central Queensland.

The ACT is part of a Commonwealth funded national surveillance program for the species with $48,000 allocated to the ACT over a 3-year period. To date the ant has not been detected in the ACT or surrounding New South Wales. Parks Conservation and Lands is targeting 'high risk' enterprises in the ACT, such as garden centres, interstate removalists and their storage facilities, and fruit and vegetable wholesalers. A modest investment at this stage is likely to avoid a huge expense in control and loss of agricultural production and assets should the species become widely established.

Updated information for reporting period 2003–07 on particular pest animals listed in the Pest Plants and Animals (Pest Animals) Declaration 2005 and/or the ACT Vertebrate Pest Management Strategy

The pest animal management activities (e.g. monitoring, developing and undertaking control programs) reported below are mainly the responsibility of Parks Conservation and Lands (Department of Territory and Municipal Services). Programs are prepared and/or coordinated by the Vertebrate Pests Coordinator. Vertebrate pest management must respond to constantly changing circumstances and challenges, such as the emergence of new pest species, resistance of species to biological control methods, community concerns about animal welfare, and concerns of landholders adjoining reserve areas like the Namadgi National Park. The community holds widely divergent views about some animals (e.g. feral horses, wild dogs/dingoes and deer), whether they should be controlled, and by what means. In this context, pest animal management is an important part of the cooperative work that Victorian, ACT and New South Wales parks agencies undertake under the auspices of the Australian Alps National Parks Agreement.



1. European Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) (declared pest animal)
Condition Generally, fox numbers are considered moderate and may be at historically low levels in Namadgi National Park. Foxes continue to be a significant urban pest.
Impacts Foxes have widespread impacts on native fauna. They are important predators of rabbits but also prey on domestic poultry and ducks. Foxes were probably significant predators of animals that survived the 2003 bushfire.
Response Continuous fox baiting programs to reduce predation on native species were maintained at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Googong Foreshores, Namadgi National Park (Gudgenby Valley) and at Rob Roy and Gigerline nature reserves. The Rob Roy and Gigerline programs are aimed at reducing fox numbers in an area where bandicoot remains were recovered after the 2003 bushfires. Monitoring of fox abundance using sand pads across management trails will be introduced at some of these sites to assess the effectiveness of baiting programs in reducing fox density. Cooperative fox baiting was also carried out with ACT landholders at Jerrabomberra Grasslands and Uriarra before the lambing season. Baiting at Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo nature reserves was suspended in 2005–06 at the request of researchers from the Australian National University. Fox baiting is not carried out in urban reserves due to restrictions on the use of 1080 baits in close proximity to built up areas.
Status and outlook Baiting remains the only viable control method for foxes and will be maintained in a targeted program for reserves that are sufficiently remote from suburban areas.


2. European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) (declared pest animal)
Condition Generally, over the reporting period, numbers were low but variable and overall had shown a general decline since the release of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) in 1996. However, recently Rangers have advised that the number of rabbits appear to be increasing significantly. 
Impacts Rabbits have biodiversity and soil stability impacts and compete with stock for pasture.
Response Control has been undertaken throughout reserve areas and assistance has been provided to landholders. Requests for the latter have been lower than normal, probably due to the prolonged drought. An extensive control program was undertaken within Namadgi National Park in 2004–05, mainly in the Gudgenby Valley. Over 200 warrens were destroyed and a baiting program was also undertaken. RHD virus became available in early 2006 for baiting programs and was used at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve and Duntroon Dairy.
Status and outlook It is understood that rabbit control will be continued using established methods (i.e. baiting, warren gassing and ripping, release of RHD virus) based on monitoring of rabbit abundance and follow-up of existing control programs.  However, given the recent significant increases, existing programs may need to be enhanced.


3. Pig (Sus scrofa) (declared pest animal)
Condition Namadgi National Park is the main area of concern and feral pig activities have been monitored there since 1985. This monitoring indicates that a large reduction in pig numbers is required before the level of damage decreases. Pig numbers declined throughout the 1990s, related to the baiting programs, but have shown a slight increase in recent years.
Impacts During the drought, feral pigs have tended to concentrate their activity in wetter areas along rivers, creeks and around wetlands. The ripping damage pigs inflict on the areas is of particular concern in the sub-alpine wetlands of the Cotter Catchment. Several of the sub-alpine Sphagnum bogs within Namadgi National Park also provide habitat for the endangered Northern Corroboree Frog.
Response Annual baiting programs have been conducted in Namadgi National Park. In response to concern over increased pig activity in wetter areas, the 2007 feral pig management program was more extensive than in recent years. In addition to extensive baiting along management trails, poisoned baits were laid in more remote areas using a helicopter.
Status and outlook A selection of sub-alpine wetlands will be monitored for feral pig damage from 2007–08 to assess the effectiveness of the annual feral pig program in reducing impact on these ecosystems.
Parks Conservation and Lands is a partner in the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre program for development of a new, more humane toxin for use in feral pig management. The new toxin will be deployed in a field efficacy trial in Namadgi National Park in 2008. A Commonwealth National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality grant is funding establishment of the feral pig damage monitoring in sub-alpine wetlands and the feral pig toxin trial plots.


4. Horse (Equus caballus) (declared pest animal)
Condition Namadgi National Park is the main area of concern. Feral horses were eradicated from the park in 1987. It remained free of feral horses until 2001, when small groups began appearing briefly on the Bimberi Range, which forms the southwestern boundary with Kosciuszko National Park.
Impacts The presence of feral horses within Namadgi National Park is of particular concern because of the damage they cause to sensitive sub-alpine wetlands and grassy flats.
Response A Namadgi National Park Feral Horse Management Plan was prepared and adopted in 2004 in response to the threat of feral horses re-establishing in the park. In accordance with this Plan, four horses were removed from a significant wetland at Rock Flat. Unfortunately, attempts to prevent horses entering Namadgi from Kosciuszko National Park using barrier fences, and to trap and transport horses from a remote area on the ACT/New South Wales border were both unsuccessful. The Namadgi Feral Horse Management Plan was revised in 2007 and, in accordance with the new plan, eight horses were removed from a remote sub-alpine flat.
Status and outlook The focus of feral horse incursions from Kosciuszko National Park remains along the Bimberi Range within the ACT with some horses remaining in the Namadgi National Park over winter, increasing the damage to several grassy flats. Further attempts to remove the remaining horses in the Mount Bimberi area will be made in 2008.
The only way to keep the Namadgi National Park free of horses is to control incursions from the adjacent Kosciuszko National Park. Parks Conservation and Lands will begin a collaborative project with the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change in 2008 to reduce the horse population in the area of Kosciuszko National Park immediately adjoining Namadgi. Horses in this area will be removed in accordance with the (draft) Kosciuszko National Park Horse Management Plan.


5. Goat (Capra hircus) (declared pest animal)
Condition Reported goat numbers continue to be low. There are reports of small herds (approximately 25 to 30) at Googong Foreshores and in the Lower Molonglo River corridor.
Impacts Currently, impacts are considered to be minimal due to the low numbers.
Response Goats are shot opportunistically. Numbers are monitored, based mainly on sightings by park staff.
Status and outlook An objective is to keep goat numbers at current low levels. It is difficult and expensive to achieve complete removal. Control is to be undertaken as part of the 5-year vertebrate pest control program (from 2007–08) in relation to monitored numbers.


6. Dingo/Wild Dog (Canis lupus sp.) (declared pest animal)
Condition The ACT dingo/wild dog population is part of an uneven distribution throughout eastern New South Wales (West and Saunders 2007). Dingoes/wild dogs are most abundant in the grassy valleys of southern Namadgi National Park, where the large kangaroo population sustains them. DNA testing for dingo purity has shown that approximately 25% of individuals in these areas are genetically pure with the remaining animals being dingo–other dog hybrids. DNA studies have also demonstrated that it is not possible to judge the genetic make up of a wild dog by its appearance or behaviour. Both the genetically pure dingoes and the dingo–dog hybrids come in all colours including white with black markings, brindle, ginger and black and tan. The hybrids also exhibit the typical behavioural traits of dingoes; howling rather than barking, breeding only once per year and hunting either in packs or as individuals.
Dingoes/wild dogs have been found to move over large home ranges; this may be a factor in the dilution of the dingo gene pool by hybridisation with domestic dogs. In 2006, the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change fitted GPS collars to trapped dogs as part of its movement studies. In comparison to dingoes within some New South Wales reserves, the dogs collared in the Gudgenby Valley in Namadgi National Park had small home ranges that were largely restricted to the valley. The much smaller ranges of animals from southern Namadgi National Park may explain the greater proportion of genetically pure dingoes that occur in this area compared to dogs that have been tested from other parts of southern New South Wales.
Impacts Most reporting focuses on the impact that dingoes/wild dogs have on rural production, including livestock predation and potential to carry diseases such as hydatids. In recent years 50 to 60 sheep losses a year in the ACT have been reported and have been confirmed as dingo/wild dog losses, with almost twice that number reported missing (presumed dog attacks).
Dingoes/wild dogs are increasingly being recognised as top-order predators in Australian ecosystems where they may play an important role in regulating both native and introduced prey populations, including Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Recent research has also linked dingoes to reduced numbers of foxes and feral cats (Glen et al. 2007).
Response Conflicting objectives between pest control and conservation creates controversy in the management of dingoes/wild dogs. A zoning approach is applied to dingo/wild dog control within Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve that aims to balance the need to protect sheep on adjacent grazing land with the important ecosystem function performed by dingoes/wild dogs. Baiting and trapping activities are undertaken near the rural–park interface, with no dog control in core areas of the reserves. Dingo/wild dog management in the southern part of Namadgi National Park is carried out under a cooperative arrangement with adjoining New South Wales land management agencies and private landholders.
Status and outlook Established control programs at the rural interface will be continued as part of the 5-year vertebrate pest control program (from 2007–08). Sand-pad monitoring will be undertaken as part of assessing dog activity.


7. Deer (mainly Fallow Deer (Dama dama) (declared pest animal)
Condition Deer are an emerging pest species in the ACT reflecting the situation across eastern New South Wales and other parts of Australia. Recent assessments suggest that feral deer are much more widespread than previously thought (West and Saunders 2007). Reported sightings indicate ACT numbers are currently low. Fallow Deer are the most abundant species. At least one Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) is known to associate with Fallow Deer in the Naas Valley. Sambar Deer (Cervus unicolour) are occasionally reported from the northern part of Namadgi National Park. Most reports of Fallow Deer are from the forest–grassland interface along the major ACT rivers. They also occur in the Naas Valley in the southeast of the ACT, and in small numbers at Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo nature reserves in Gungahlin.
Impacts The impact feral deer are having in the ACT are probably negligible at the current low numbers. Reported impacts include some browsing of native shrubs, including Bursaria spp. and Acacia spp., and damage to trees that occurs when deer rub velvet from their antlers. When present in large numbers, deer have the potential to impact on native vegetation. Grazing and browsing by deer may also affect native fauna by creating direct competition with native herbivores or by altering vegetation structure, with consequences for small mammal and bird habitat. As with other hard-hoofed animals, deer can also cause trampling damage to sensitive vegetation and create tracks that contribute to erosion. If Sambar Deer were to establish a breeding population in Namadgi National Park, they would have the potential to create significant damage to sub-alpine wetlands by trampling, wallowing and grazing. An increased potential for vehicles to collide with deer on rural roads is an issue that will emerge if deer become more abundant in the ACT.
Response There is presently no formal monitoring of deer abundance or impacts in the ACT.
Status and outlook Following a recent Alps National Parks workshop on deer management, establishment of deer dung monitoring plots is being considered for the ACT, using a protocol developed by researchers with Parks Victoria. Management of feral deer on public land poses a significant challenge as there are limited options available for effective control of such secretive, widely ranging species. Ground shooting has been the main control method used in New South Wales. Recreational deer hunting is allowed in parts of New South Wales and Victoria and if numbers increase in the ACT, it could give rise to pressure to allow recreational hunting, as well as encouraging illegal hunting in reserve areas.


8. Alien fish species (Vertebrate Pest Strategy/some declared pest animals)
Condition Seven alien fish species are established in the ACT: Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Brown Trout (Salmo trutta), Goldfish (Carassius auratus), Carp (Cyprinus carpio), Oriental Weatherloach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus), Eastern Gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki) and Redfin Perch (Perca fluviatilis). More information on these species is contained in ACT Government (2007), Lintermans (2002) and Lintermans and Osborne (2002). Some of these species are not currently found in higher altitude streams such as the Cotter River system. Carp form about 70% of the fish biomass in lower elevation ACT rivers and 70–90% of the biomass in urban lakes. An important factor in the expansion of the range of alien fish species is deliberate or accidental dispersal by humans. For example, Rainbow Trout have recently become established in Gibraltar Creek above Gibraltar Falls, which are too high to be bypassed naturally.
Impacts Detrimental effects of alien fish species on native fish populations derive from competition for food and habitat, predation, introduction and spread of diseases and parasites, and habitat degradation. Rainbow Trout above Gibraltar Falls are likely to have devastating effects on the previously secure population of Mountain Galaxias (Galaxias olidus).
Response Broadscale eradication of established alien fish species is not currently possible and control options are limited because of the potential impact of measures on native species. Control measures include prevention of establishment of new pest species (e.g. the prohibited species in the list of declared pest animals), eradication of localised populations, prevention of spread of established pest fish (e.g. in inter-basin water transfers), and enforcement of the ban on using live fish bait in the ACT. Specific controls on fishing are in place to protect the Cotter catchment from invasion by alien species and the spread of fish diseases. The river is free of Carp and Redfin Perch above the Cotter Dam. A comprehensive outline of these provisions is contained in the ACT Aquatic Species and Riparian Zone Conservation Strategy (ACT Government 2007)
Status and outlook The alien fish situation in the ACT is typical of that found across the Murray–Darling Basin. However, there are opportunities for informed management to limit alien fish invasion, and to protect particular areas of habitat and remnant native fish populations. In particular, this involves maintaining fishing and access controls, not stocking alien species where they could have an impact on remaining native fish populations, maintaining barriers to alien fish invasion, and evaluating the impacts on native and alien fish species of water resource projects such as inter-basin transfers and dam enlargement.


9. European Wasp (Vespula germanica) (declared pest animal)
Condition The European Wasp (Vespula germanica), a declared pest animal, has become widely established in the ACT. While more prevalent in urban areas, it was recorded in Namadgi National Park in 2003, including remote, relatively intact natural areas (e.g. Bimberi Wilderness Area). There has been a huge increase in the number of nests treated (see table).
Financial year European Wasp enquiries Nests treated
2003–04 586 223
2004–05 809 358
2005–06 630 341
2006–07 777 439
Source: ACT European Wasp Hotline
Impacts European wasps are a threat to native biodiversity, especially insects and spiders, and to rural industries and public health. Because of high nest populations and their insect-foraging activities, European Wasps can destroy virtually all insect species in an area around their nests (Spradbury 2007). The wasp has a painful sting, can sting repeatedly and associates with people eating and drinking outdoors.
Response A European Wasp hotline has been established in the ACT for advice on the wasp. Residents and landholders are advised to have nests destroyed by a professional pest controller once the nest is confirmed. Through the hotline they are also asked to advise of the presence of nests on government land so the nests can be destroyed. Nest destruction and baiting has been undertaken throughout Namadgi National Park, with a special focus at picnic areas to enhance public safety.
Status and outlook The species is favoured by the relatively mild winters in Australia. This has allowed it to over-winter and establish very large nests. It is likely to further extend its range. Currently the only means of control are nest destruction and baiting.

Other species of concern

Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) (Vertebrate Pest Strategy)
Condition Eastern Grey Kangaroo densities may reach high levels in parts of the ACT. The main reasons for this are that culling is not undertaken in some areas (e.g. nature reserves and Namadgi National Park) and there is limited predation pressure from dingoes/wild dogs in many areas. As well as direct predation, the presence of dingoes/wild dogs results in kangaroos foregoing some feeding opportunities to reduce their predation risk.
Management of kangaroo densities in some areas, including Commonwealth land, is a contentious issue. Areas in which kangaroo densities reached high and unsustainable levels in the reporting period were Googong Foreshores, Belconnen Naval Transmission Station, and the Majura Training Area. In 2006–07, densities of more than four Eastern Grey Kangaroos per hectare (i.e. about four times the estimated sustainable level) were recorded at the Belconnen transmission station. Small culls in high-density populations are generally ineffective as reduced numbers are rapidly replaced.
Impacts Kangaroo populations can increase to the point where they outstrip the food supply and many starve to death. In particular, this is likely to occur when drought conditions develop. Another very important consideration is the impact of kangaroo grazing on ecological communities (i.e. the vegetation cover, the habitat it forms, and the plant and animal species that rely on that habitat). In lowland ACT, some kangaroo populations are concentrated in areas containing endangered ecological communities; over-grazing threatens the survival of the plants and animals depending on that habitat. These conditions currently prevail at the Belconnen transmission station and at the Majura Training Area; as well, overgrazing at Googong Foreshores is a threat to the water catchment.
Collisions between motor vehicles and kangaroos continue to be significant on ACT and region roads. Shortage of feed in some reserves due to drought and high kangaroo densities has resulted in kangaroos foraging in the suburbs at night, increasing the likelihood of collisions. Confirmed kangaroo mortality following collisions with vehicles in the urban area was 563 (1/7/2005-30/6/2006) and 777 (1/7/2006-30/6/2007). It should be noted that these data are an understatement as many roadkills are unreported and typically many animals (110 in '05/'06 and 127 in '06/'07) are unable to be located after reported collisions and ranger attendance.
Response The ACT Kangaroo Advisory Committee investigated management of Eastern Grey Kangaroos in the ACT in the late 1990s and their findings remain valid (ACT Kangaroo Advisory Committee 1996a, 1996b, 1997). The Committee concluded that there were large numbers and high densities of kangaroos in the ACT and recommended shooting according to official codes of practice as the 'least inhumane' way of controlling populations. Rural lessees in the ACT cull substantial numbers annually (see Indicator: Harvesting native species).
In 2004 a cull of 800 kangaroos was undertaken at the drought affected Googong Foreshores. This action prompted anti-cull protests. The recently released Googong Foreshores Draft Plan of Management 2007 (TAMS 2007) contains a detailed section on managing kangaroo populations in the area.
The Department of Defence did not undertake approved culls at the Belconnen transmission station or the Majura Training Area during the 2007 winter culling season. The Department considered alternative proposals, such as translocation of kangaroos to locations outside the ACT. Based on approved cull numbers this would involve over 3000 kangaroos. Failure to conduct the cull has raised serious concerns about the impact of grazing on endangered natural temperate grassland and threatened species such as the Grassland Earless Dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla) and the Ginninderra Peppercress (Lepidium ginninderrense).
Status and outlook Kangaroo management is a contentious issue and is likely to remain so. The issue involves animal welfare, road safety, catchment management and the impact of overgrazing on ecological communities. Considerable effort has been placed on developing a clear scientific basis for kangaroo management; however, most opposition to culling is based on an ethical position that is unlikely to be swayed by scientific evidence.  Kangaroo management policies need to be regularly updated in consultation with key stakeholders.

Common Myna

The State of the Environment 2003 report noted the dramatic increase in abundance and extent of the Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) in the ACT since the late 1980s. The species is aggressive and invasive and is a particular threat to native species that use tree hollows. Its boldness around humans (e.g. in outdoor eating areas) also poses a human health risk.

Dr Chris Tidemann and students at the Australian National University have researched the species since the early 1990s. Drawing on the social nature and feeding habits of the birds, Tidemann conducted trapping trials that were continued by the Canberra Ornithologists Group and the former Environment ACT. These trials demonstrated the potential of trapping to reduce local populations.

In 2006 the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group (CIMAG) was formed with the aim of implementing an agreed strategy to tackle the Myna problem. The group aims to increase public awareness, reduce the bird's feeding and breeding opportunities through public education, and carry out a humane reduction program. Since the group's formation and until 30 June 2007, 11,200 mynas and almost 1200 Starlings had been trapped and disposed of humanely. Group members who participate in trapping are required to abide by a protocol on animal welfare. The RSPCA provides a service to euthanise and dispose of captured birds. The group organised workshops on constructing low costs traps and plans are provided on their website at http://www.indianmynaaction.org.au/.

The success of the group, which has a number of prominent ACT ornithologists on its committee, is an inspiring example of well-informed community action aimed at controlling a pest animal species.

Data sources and references

ACT Vertebrate Pest Control Program Reports 2003–04 to 2006–07, Prepared by ACT Parks and Conservation Service 2003–04 to 2005–06, and Parks Conservation and Lands (TAMS) 2006–07

Information on current and forward pest animal control programs provided by the Vertebrate Pests Coordinator, Parks, Conservation and Lands, Department of Territory and Municipal Services

Information on Eastern Grey Kangaroo management information and data provided by Research and Monitoring, Parks Conservation and Lands, Department of Territory and Municipal Services

Canberra Indian Myna Action Group (CIMAG) information from their website http://www.indianmynaaction.org.au/.

ACT Government 2002, ACT Vertebrate Pest Management Strategy, Environment ACT, Canberra 2002 available at <http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/13425/vertpestmgmntstrategy.pdf>

ACT Government 2007, Ribbons of Life: ACT Aquatic Species and Riparian Zone Conservation Strategy, Action Plan No. 29, Department of Territory and Municipal Services, Canberra

ACT Kangaroo Advisory Committee 1996a, Living with Eastern Grey Kangaroos in the ACT – Rural Lands, First Report, ACT Government, Canberra 1996 available at <http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/13837/actkangarooadvisorycommitteereport1pdf.pdf>

ACT Kangaroo Advisory Committee 1996b, Kangaroos in Captivity in the ACT, Second Report, ACT Government, Canberra available at <http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/13823/actkangarooadvisorycommitteereport2pdf.pdf>

ACT Kangaroo Advisory Committee 1997, Living with Eastern Grey Kangaroos in the ACT – Public Land, Third Report to the Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning, ACT Government, Canberra1997 available at <http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/13051/actkangarooadvisorycommitteereport3pdf.pdf>

Glen, AS, Dickman, CR, SoulĂ©, ME and Mackey, BG 2007 Evaluating the role of the dingo as a trophic regulator in Australian ecosystems, Austral Ecology, 32:492–501

Lintermans, M 2002, Fish in the Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment: A Review of Current Knowledge, Environment ACT, Canberra

Lintermans, M and Osborne, W 2002, Wet and Wild: A Field Guide to the Freshwater Animals of the Southern Tablelands and High Country of the ACT and New South Wales, Environment ACT, Canberra

Moloney, S and Vanderwoude, C 2002, Red Imported Fire Ants: A threat to eastern Australia's wildlife?, Ecological Management and Restoration, 3(3):167–75

Spradbury, P 2007, European wasps in Canberra, Beekeepers Association of the ACT, available at <http://www.actbeekeepers.asn.au/information/european_wasp/european_wasp.htm> accessed 24 Sept 2007

TAMS (Territory and Municipal Services) 2007, Googong Foreshores Draft Plan of Management 2007, Department of Territory and Municipal Services, Canberra

West, P and Saunders, G 2007, Pest Animal Survey 2004–06: A review of the distribution, impacts and control of invasive animals throughout New South Wales and the ACT, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Orange

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