24 April 2024

Parks and reserves to close for 'largest pest animal program' in Territory to date

| Claire Fenwicke
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Feral pig

Feral pigs and deer will be targeted as part of the vertebrate pest animal control program. Photo: EPSDD.

Several parks and reserves across the ACT will be periodically closed throughout May and June as the vertebrate pest control program is conducted for another year.

The ACT Government utilises a thermal-assisted aerial control program to remove pest species, such as feral dear and pigs, from conservation areas and water catchments across the Territory.

“These pests compete with native species for habitat and resources, they graze and trample habitats, and negatively impact water quality in our catchments,” ACT Parks and Conservation Service executive branch manager Stephen Alegria said.

“Aerial shooting is the most effective and humane method of control available for large feral animals. It allows larger areas to be covered across challenging terrain that would otherwise be difficult to access.

“Thermal imaging cameras are used to detect and target animals, increasing effectiveness and animal welfare outcomes.”

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The ACT Government received additional funding from the Better Biosecurity initiative to conduct this year’s cull which, Mr Alegria said, meant this would be the “largest pest animal program” implemented in the ACT.

“The additional funding will allow the program to expand to operate on many rural properties adjacent to the conservation areas to help farmers manage these pests,” he said.

“Extensive safety precautions will be in place, including buffer zones, signage and sweeps prior to all operations. The community should also be aware that aircraft may be operating within the closed areas.”

In 2023, 517 feral pigs, 356 feral deer and 57 feral goats were controlled across Namadgi National Park, the Murrumbidgee River Corridor, Molonglo River Reserve and Googong.

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The closures will take place from 13 May to 11 June and will be staged:

  • Namadgi National Park East: 13 – 19 May
  • Namadgi National Park West: 14 – 24 May
  • Namadgi National Park North: 22 – 26 May
  • Lower Cotter Catchment: 22 – 26 May
  • Stony Creek Nature Reserve: 25 – 31 May
  • Bullen Range Nature Reserve: 25 May – 7 June
  • Gigerline Nature Reserve: 25 May – 7 June
  • Rob Roy Range Nature Reserve: 25 May – 7 June
  • Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve: 3 – 4 June
  • Swamp Creek Nature Reserve: 3 – 7 June
  • Sherwood Special Purpose Reserve: 3 – 7 June
  • Molonglo River Reserve: 3 – 7 June
  • Googong Foreshores: 5 – 11 June

The Murrumbidgee Discovery trail will be closed from Pine Island to Casuarina Sands, including a section of the Centenary trail between Kambah Pool and Pine Island, from 25 May to 7 June.

Those wishing to enjoy Canberra’s parks and reserves have been advised to keep an eye on the ACT Parks website for the latest information.

The Australian Alps walking track will be closed from the Mt Tennant summit to the NSW border in Murrays Gap from 14 to 25 May.

Parts of Kosciusko National Park in NSW are also closed, including large sections of the walking track, until 4 October.

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Hopefully some of these feral animals can be re-homed and put up for pre-selection in Labor seats. Either NSW or ACT.

I’m all for controlling feral animal, but in conjunction with spending money on professional culls it should be considered to let control hunting permits for a period as NSW do so that people can harvest meat before so many animals go to waste, and gather some revenue as in the process

Great news thanks. Thank goodness we are not governed by NSW. Their current closure for the same purpose (in Kosciuszko, right up to the ACT border) is not for just a few days like ours, but for for 6 months! That is because the ACT acted firmly in the past. It eradicated the last feral horses in Namadgi (by shooting them), almost eradicated the once-teeming herds of goats (by heli-shooting), and reduced pig abundance by baiting. In contrast, NSW did not bait its pigs and used ineffective trapping for horses which let the feral horse population double every five years, so now they have tens of thousands of horses to be culled, as well as a lot of pigs and deer to be controlled.

Compared to NSW, this ACT approach is more efficient economically, more humane because fewer animals are affected, far better for the environment and has a much lower impact on recreation. Thank you to all who are responsible for funding and running this program.

Most people would recognize the need to control feral animals – and we have far too many – pigs, camels, carp, cane toads to name a few, but they might object to the methods used. There is also an equal need to control other feral numbers like cows which is controversial because of their economic value. But perhaps the most damaging feral animal is the human yet their explosive growth in numbers is ignored even by environmentalists.

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