What is a Feral?

To: Birding-Aus Aus <>
Subject: What is a Feral?
From: Carl Clifford <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 12:28:20 +1100
Dear All,

When does a species become a feral and when does it become a native?

Most Australian birders would regard the Cattle Egret as a native, but shouldn't it be classed as a feral? It was introduced, possibly unsuccessfully, to Derby WA in 1933. It then appeared, in large numbers in Oenpelli NT in 1948 and reached Colac Vic in 1949 and now it is pretty well ubiquitous. As the species is highly mobile and considerable numbers move between northern Australia and the Indonesian Archipelago, it is potentially a serious vector for avian diseases. Should they be culled?

Hanzab describes a colony of Cape Barren Geese at Tidbinbilla ACT as feral (V 1-b p1196). Should they be culled, after all they do compete with other native grazing water birds for an often scarce food rescource?

Off the Avian track, but equally interesting, the Dingo. This man assisted migrant has caused considerable damage to the numbers of native mammal species and may very well have caused the loss of some species. It is regarded as a native, but meets many of the criteria for a feral, so what is it?

I would be interested in peoples opinions on this. I find that the line between feral and native a very wavery one which appears to be drawn nearly at random.

Carl Clifford

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