Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

Control of pest mammals for biodiversity protection in Australia. I. Patterns of control and monitoring

Ben Reddiex A , David M. Forsyth B F , Eve McDonald-Madden B D , Luke D. Einoder B E , Peter A. Griffioen C , Ryan R. Chick B and Alan J. Robley B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Landcare Research, PO Box 69, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand. Present address: Department of Conservation, Wellington Conservancy, PO Box 5086, Wellington, New Zealand.

B Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Department of Sustainability and Environment, PO Box 137, Heidelberg, Vic. 3084, Australia.

C Acromap Pty Ltd, 37 Gloucester Drive, Heidelberg, Vic. 3084, Australia.

D Present address: The Ecology Centre, School of Integrative Biology, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

E Present address: South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), PO Box 120, Henley Beach, SA 5022, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: dave.forsyth@dse.vic.gov.au

Wildlife Research 33(8) 691-709 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR05102
Submitted: 16 November 2005  Accepted: 20 October 2006   Published: 19 December 2006


Foxes, wild dogs, feral cats, rabbits, feral pigs and feral goats are believed to have deleterious impacts on native biodiversity in Australia. However, although considerable resources have been expended controlling these six species, little is known about national patterns and costs of control and monitoring. We therefore conducted a survey of pest-control operations undertaken by conservation-focused organisations in Australia. A total of 1306 control operations were reported, with most conducted during 1998–2003: there was little information prior to 1990. Foxes and rabbits were the most, and feral cats the least, frequently controlled pest species. The total area on which control was undertaken in 2003, the year for which most information was available, ranged from ~0.4 × 104 km2 for feral cats to ~10.7 × 104 km2 for foxes. A wide range of techniques and intensities were used to control each of the six species. The estimated cost of labour expended on control in 2003 ranged from $0.4 × 106 for feral cats to $5.3 × 106 for foxes. Monitoring of the pest or biodiversity occurred in 50–56% of control actions in which foxes, wild dogs and feral cats were targeted, but only 22–26% of control actions in which rabbits, feral pigs and feral goats were targeted. Our results are discussed in relation to previous studies of pest animal control and monitoring in Australia.


This study was funded by the Department of the Environment and Heritage. We thank all the individuals, too numerous to list here, who kindly provided information: without them this study would not have been possible. We thank P. Macak and K. Long for assisting with data collection, G. Swanson and G. Heard for assisting with data entry, and M. Scroggie for assisting with the preparation of some figures. M. Bomford and Q. Hart kindly clarified the methods used to estimate their costs. Comments by S. Wright, D. McRae, T. Clancy, P. Cowan, J. Parkes and two anonymous reviewers greatly improved this manuscript.


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Appendix 1.  Organisations that were surveyed, the number of interviews conducted with people in each organisation, and the number of control operations surveyed
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Appendix 2.  Number of shires, universities and agricultural boards that were contacted, the percentage that had undertaken pest animal control and the number of operations surveyed

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