Eradications of vertebrate pests in Australia

AusEradicationsA review and guidelines for future best practice

This report summarises the research conducted for the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre project ‘Success of eradication programs for vertebrate pest species on islands around Australia’. The project aimed to:

  1. identify factors that are reported to influence the success of vertebrate pest eradications;
  2. collate data associated with the eradication attempts of vertebrate pests on Australian offshore islands and the mainland;
  3. construct statistical models to test explanatory variables associated with the success (and failure) of eradication attempts of vertebrate pests on Australian offshore islands;
  4.  provide qualitative insight into mainland-eradication success (and failure) and compare this information with the lessons learned from island eradications; and
  5. review knowledge gaps (in both information and data) from past eradication attempts that can help improve the probability of future eradication success for researchers and wildlife managers.

Eradication is the complete and permanent removal of a ‘pest’ species from a defined area, and within a defined time period. Eradication data was collected for 650 vertebrate pest eradication attempts; 354 from 188 offshore islands and 296 from varions locations on the Australian mainland. The majority of vertebrate eradication attempts were reported to be successful (92.5% on islands). Overall, we found that increasing island ruggedness (a measure of topographic complexity) was the most consistently influential variable explaining differences in eradication success. Other variables of island eradication success, with less support in the top-ranked models, included: (i) increasing island size; (ii) greater elevational range; (iii) longer time that a pest population was present on an island; and (iv) closer distance from a source population.

In order to inform the future analysis and collation of data on eradication attempts we present a list (Appendix A) of the putative factors associated with the key aspects of vertebrate pest eradication attempts: (1) physical and  biological factors at the location of the eradication attempt; (2) details of the vertebrate pest population eradicated; and (3) details of the eradication itself, i.e., methods and cost. To date, the majority of these fields have been extremely poorly recorded. A particular challenge for future analyses will be to record measures (and breakdowns) of the cost and consistency of eradication program efforts.

It is generally believed that the scientific and public pessimism surrounding the control of biological invasions is largely due to widely publicised management failures, especially failed eradications. We present a set of core “best practice” considerations for enhancing the success of eradication efforts, which can lead to increased public perception, as well as increased community and government support: (1) feasibility planning; (2) methodological and technological advances; (3) non-target species; (4) surprise effects; (5) pre- and posteradication monitoring; (6) welfare and ethical awareness; and (7) documentation.

Produced by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre as part of the PestSmart series.

Secondary title PestSmart
Author Gregory SD, Henderson W, Smee E, and Cassey P
Year 2014
Place published Canberra
Publisher Invasive Animals CRC
Pages 90 pp
ISBN/ISSN Web ISBN: 978-1-921777-73-8
Control method Integrated Pest Management
Region Australia - national

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