There needs to be both a comprehensive and strategic approach to the control
of feral animals, especially in national parks and nature reserves.
I was talking to a colleague from Western Australia a couple of weeks ago
who mentioned that there has been an apparent marked decline in the
abundance of Western Ground Parrots in the last year or two. One possible
explanation for this (as I understand) is that there has been a targeted
baiting program for foxes, which has been quite successful in some parts of
the South-west of WA. However, it would appear that the feral cat population
has built up considerably, filling the vacant predator niche that was
previously occupied by foxes and this, in turn, may have resulted in
increased predation of Western Ground Parrots (and other species?). I'm not
sure if I've got the whole story here, and I'm happy for other
birding-aussers (especially from WA) to add to it.
This example demonstrates that feral animals are part of a complex ecosystem
and by eradicating one or a few feral species, but leaving others, can have
disastrous consequences on native animals. If shooters are allowed into
national parks in NSW, then I'm sure they would be targeting specific feral
species. Therefore, their actions could potentially be more harmful to
native wildlife, particularly threatened animal species, in the absence of a
comprehensive, co-ordinated, carefully monitored and assessed approach to
feral animal control.
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