What is a Feral?

To: Carl Clifford <>
Subject: What is a Feral?
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 15:58:04 +1100

Carl et al

Interesting discussion . . .

Fauna of Australia vol1B Mammalia is an authoritative work but it shows
inconsistency in dealing with introduced species (perhaps a result of
individual contributor's preferences).  The introduction makes it clear
that the book will focus on 'non feral' species rather than those
'introduced and established in feral populations'.  Introduced families are
described as follows:

Equidae 'run wild'.
Suidae are feral.
Cameledae are wild but may also be feral.
Cervidae are introduced.
Bovidae 'run wild' too.
Canidae - dingo introduced before European settlement, fox and dog
Felidae - cats exotic but significant element of Australian fauna.
Leporidae are introduced,

The 'feral' Cape Barren Geese at Tidbinbilla is an interesting case and
made me think of Cape Barren Geese on Kangaroo Island and Magpie Geese at
Tower Hill (Vic).  I understand that pinioned Cape Barren Geese were
introduced to Kangaroo Island in a successful attempt to establish a
population and captive Magpie Geese were kept at Tower Hill until they
decided to call it home.  In both cases native species were re-introduced
to part of their former range (I'm assuming geese occurred naturally on KI)
and the descendants are for all intents and purposes natural.  The emus
that were introduced to KI would be in the same category as the Tidbinbilla
geese but I wouldn't call them feral; reserving that term for introduced
domesticated species (feral pigeons?).

'Naturalised' seems to be used regularly to describe exotic plants that
successfully colonise new environments and perhaps that combination may be
more appropriate.  If so, Canada Geese would be feral in New Zealand but
exotic in Australia.  If they manage to establish a viable population they
will be a naturalised exotic species (but hopefully that won't happen).

Perhaps I should have paid more attention in Biogeography all those years


             Carl Clifford                                                 
   >                                                     To 
             Sent by:                  Birding-Aus Aus                     
             birding-aus-bounc         <>         
             10/01/08 12:28 PM         [Birding-Aus] What is a Feral?      

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

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

To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

Any personal or sensitive information contained in this email and
attachments must be handled in accordance with the Victorian Information
Privacy Act 2000, the Health Records Act 2001 or the Privacy Act 1988
(Commonwealth), as applicable.

This email, including all attachments, is confidential.  If you are not the
intended recipient, you must not disclose, distribute, copy or use the
information contained in this email or attachments.  Any confidentiality or
privilege is not waived or lost because this email has been sent to you in
error.  If you have received it in error, please let us know by reply
email, delete it from your system and destroy any copies.


To unsubscribe from this mailing list, 
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU