Strategic Control of Exotic Vertebrate Pests for the Conservation of Biodiversity: Threat Abatement Planning in New South Wales, Australia

Exotic vertebrate pests are among the most significant threats to biodiversity throughout the world. In Australia, the introduction of three species of carnivore, the wild dog (Canis lupis dingo and C.l. familiaris), the feral cat (Felis catus) and the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), has contributed to severe declines and extinctions of a broad range of ground-dwelling and semi-arboreal mammals, ground-nesting birds and freshwater turtles. Similarly, the introduction of herbivores such as the rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the goat (Capra hircus) has had significant impacts on native plants, native herbivores, soil stability and water quality. Exotic fish such as the plague minnow (Gambusia holbrooki) and carp (Cyprinus carpio) threaten native aquatic species.

Preventing the incursion of exotic species or eradicating them soon after their arrival is clearly preferable if biodiversity is to be conserved. However, the establishment of exotic species over broad areas including whole continents provides a more challenging problem for wildlife managers. Given limited resources, control of widely distributed pests must be prioritised to focus on sites where the impacts are likely to be greatest. In New South Wales, targeted vertebrate pest control is being developed and delivered through Threat Abatement Plans. Prepared under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act, these plans have three specific objectives: (1) to establish collaborative (across tenure) control programmes at priority sites identified for the conservation of native fauna. These priority sites are selected by identifying those threatened species that are most likely to be impacted by a given pest and the sites at which these impacts are predicted to be most critical. (2) to develop best-practice guidelines for control which balance effective control with minimising any negative effects of control methods on non-target species. (3) to measure the response of targeted threatened species to pest control. At present, plans for red foxes and plague minnow are being implemented while plans for feral cats, rabbits, feral pigs (Sus scrofa) goats and deer (Cervidae spp.) are being developed. This paper reviews the development and implementation of these plans.

Author Mahon, P.
Date 2005-02-05
Year 2005
Secondary title 13th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference
Place published Wellington, NZ
Publisher Landcare Research
Pages 15
Region NSW
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