Introduced species such as deer, rabbits, foxes and feral cats do a huge amount of damage to our land. They create issues for landowners managing their properties, they destroy habitat in our Green Wedge and they create a risk on our roads. We need a strong, effective and compassionate plan to manage, control and eventually eliminate these species from the local area.
The current method to control these species involves culling, which can come in the form of poisoned bait or shooting. While these methods are able to keep numbers down, they are cruel and they have proven to be ineffective in the long-term. Our long-term strategy needs to be to eliminate these species altogether and culling has repeatedly failed to do this.
We need a new approach for managing feral species – one that is more effective and less cruel than the current methods.
Technology is constantly advancing and this should have made culling obsolete a long time ago. There are so many other methods we can use, including relocation, exclusion zones, trap-spay-neuter-release programs and the PZP vaccine. While these technologies may not have the same immediate effect as culling, they can be more effective in the long-term, as they limit reproductive rebound, which is one of the biggest weaknesses of culling methods.
Further to these methods, digital technology can be harnessed to help us identify and track feral animals to make all elimination strategies more effective.
We can’t cease current methods yet but it is time to start piloting new ones.
While we have so many opportunities to use modern technology to manage feral species, unfortunately many of these are untested locally and this means it would be risky to cease current methods immediately. We need a sensible and informed transition. Modern methods need to be piloted in select areas in the Green Wedge, with old methods continued elsewhere as a control. This will allow us to assess the effectiveness of new methods in the local area as a way of finding the best and most effective long-term strategy to eliminate feral species from our Green Wedge.
I will push for Nillumbik’s plan for feral species to include programs to pilot new, more effective, less cruel methods of controlling feral species. It may take time but it will be worth it in the end.
Nillumbik can lead the way in developing new long-term and humane methods to control feral species.
If newer methods prove to be more effective, Nillumbik will once again set an example to other councils across the country. We’ve led the way on so many initiatives in the past, including the FOGO system, which allows residents to put food and garden waste in the same bin. It is time for us to lead the way on feral species management too.