Feral Animals

​There are a number of introduced animals which pose significant threats to biodiversity across the Adelaide Hills region. Some of these ‘feral’ animals are also responsible for costing millions of dollars in damage, control efforts and loss of production within the agricultural industry. [1]

The following pest animals are either already well entrenched, are emerging as a serious pest or not currently established, but are at risk of establishing in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

[1] Animal Pests of South Australia. Pirsa Biosecurity

EUROPEAN FOX (Vulpes vulpes)
Since their introduction in the mid-1800s, foxes have become one of the main predators which have had a devastating effect on the smaller native species of mammals, birds and reptiles across the region, and in particular have been implicated in the extinction of almost 30 native mammals from mainland South Australia.

In conjunction with widespread loss of habitat across the region, foxes have placed further pressure on remaining populations of native species, including threatened species such as the Southern Brown Bandicoot, Yellow-footed Antechinus, Cunningham's Skink and the Common Brushtail Possum. They are also known to kill lambs and poultry.

Landholders are responsible for the satisfactory control of foxes on their properties under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004. Given this legislative requirement, many landholders are actively managing foxes on their individual properties, whist others have undertaken a coordinated approach with volunteer groups and organisations such as AMLRNRM (Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resource Management Board). Overall the management across Council land is somewhat ‘ad hoc’, with sporadic management undertaken by AMLRNRM in consultation with Council. In many cases, the risk of off–target poisoning to domestic dogs, is too great and therefore we do not endorse the use of baits and fumigation within their reserves.

Contacts and useful links
Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources | (08) 8273 910
PIRSA Biosecurity SA | (08) 8303 9620

Fox reporting website and smartphone app
FoxScan is a community website that allows you to record and map sightings of foxes, fox damage, and control activities in your local area. Use FoxScan data recorded in your region to help decide where to undertake control, and coordinate with your neighbours.

EUROPEAN RABBIT (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
Rabbits were an early introduction to all states of Australia following European settlement. Their numbers rapidly exploded causing huge impacts to biodiversity and agriculture alike. They actively compete with native animals for food resources and damage sown crops and native plants by ringbarking trees and shrubs, inhibiting regeneration by eating seed and seedlings. Their warrens are also responsible for soil erosion and destabilisation.

Since the release of the biological controls Myxoma Virus and Rabbit Calicivirus Disease (RCD) or rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) (1937 and 1995 respectively), rabbit numbers overall have been significantly reduced. However, eventually rabbits developed a genetic resistance to Myxomatosis and are also predicted to become resistant to RCD as well. Their numbers still fluctuate in response to seasonal conditions and other management tools are being utilised by landholders to control localised populations such as poisoning, shooting and warren destruction. These are more accessible methods in rural settings, however controlling rabbits in more urban areas can be problematic. The aim should focus on removing the rabbits from the environment and modifying that environment to reduce the suitability for rabbits. These include activities such as removing available refuge (e.g. rubbish, woodpiles) and destroying warrens.

To further combat the threat of rabbits within Australia, a national release of a Korean strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, known as RHDV1 or K5, was undertaken in March, 2017. The release took place at 45 sites across South Australia. In preparation for the release, landholders and the community were asked to help in developing information about rabbit populations prior to the release, and in reporting any evidence of disease-affected rabbits in their local area following the release. See RabbitScan website information.

Domestic and commercially kept rabbits will be at risk from the virus so the official warning is that unless your rabbits are kept inside and in an insect-safe place, they need to be vaccinated.

Under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004, it is the legal responsibility of the landowner to control rabbits on their property. Along roadsides specific plans to control rabbits need to be developed in cooperation with the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board (AMLRNRMB).

Contacts and useful links
Natural Resources Management Board (Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges) | Rabbit control advice
PIRSA Biosecurity SA | (08) 8303 9620
K5 Vaccination information for domestic rabbits
Natural Resources Centres
Black Hill Natural Resources Centre | (08) 8336 0901
Woodside Natural Resources Centre | (08) 8336 0901

Rabbit reporting website and smartphone app
RabbitScan is a free resource for landholders and the community to record and map rabbit activity, warrens, damage, and control activities in their local area. RabbitScan can also be used to record rabbit numbers and evidence of disease.

FALLOW DEER (Dama dama)
Deer were first introduced into Australia in the 1800’s as game animals. Within Mount Lofty Ranges region, some Fallow Deer have escaped from commercial properties and are becoming widespread as ‘feral’ pest species. The impacts caused by deer include damage to native vegetation and commercial crops and pastures. More specifically overgrazing, browsing, trampling, ring-barking, dispersal of weeds and spreading disease such Phytophthora cinnamomi, damage to fences, creation of trails through bushland and acceleration of erosion.

Currently Natural Resource Management staff are undertaking a range of investigations to identify the distribution, impacts and potential options for controlling Fallow Deer. The region is working towards the development of a strategic management program to reduce the effect of all feral deer species across the landscape. [1]

Under South Australia’s Natural Resources Management Act 2004 ‘feral’ deer are a declared animal and it is the landholder’s responsibility to satisfactory control feral deer on their properties. It is also a deer keeper’s responsibility to notify neighbouring landowners of escaped farmed deer.

Any sightings of feral deer should be reported to the Natural Resource Management Board, where landowners can also obtain advice about control measures.

Contacts and useful links
Natural Resources Management Board (Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges) | Deer control advice
PIRSA Biosecurity SA | (08) 8303 9620
Natural Resources Centres
Black Hill Natural Resources Centre | (08) 8336 0901
Woodside Natural Resources Centre | (08) 8336 0901

Deer reporting website and smartphone app
FeralDeerScan is coming soon

[1] Copyright, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (2015) Deer pest management guide - Fallow Deer (Dama dama)

GOAT (Capra hircus)
Goats arrived in Australia with the settlement of the colonies by the first Europeans. Descending from those that escaped, the feral population has spread across Australia, where they cause significant economic and environmental damage through overgrazing and competition with livestock and native herbivores. More specifically, goats are known to trample, heavily browse and ring-bark native and planted vegetation, cause erosion, spread weeds and leave strong odours around their camps, driving away some native species.

Currently goats are actively monitored and removed in some National Parks and Wildlife reserves with methods such as satellite tracking, trapping and shooting, with collaboration between numerous stakeholders.

We do not currently manage goats on Council land due to the high risk posed to public safety associated with some of these methods.

Under South Australia’s Natural Resources Management Act 2004 ‘feral’ goats are a declared animal and it is the landholder’s responsibility to satisfactory control them on their properties. It is also the responsibility of landowners who keep goats to notify neighbouring landowners of any escaped animals.

Any sightings of feral goats should be reported to Natural Resources Management Board, where landowners can also obtain advice about control measures.

Contacts and useful links
Natural Resources Management Board (Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges) | Goat control advice
PIRSA Biosecurity SA | (08) 8303 9620
Natural Resources Centres
Black Hill Natural Resources Centre | (08) 8336 0901
Woodside Natural Resources Centre | (08) 8336 0901

Goat reporting website and smartphone app
FeralGoatScan is a community website that allows you to record and map sightings of feral goats, damage, and control activities in your local area. Use data to identify priority areas for feral goat control, and work with your local land managers to implement control in a coordinated way.

FERAL CATS (Felis catus)

Feral cats are defined as those that live independent of humans and survive by hunting or scavenging. Introduced early during European settlement, feral cat colonies become established in the wild by the 1850s. Mostly feral cats have spread from domestic populations, either as abandoned animals or intentionally released to help manage rats and mice populations.

Feral cats impact significantly on Australia's biodiversity, predating on a range of native species, particularly birds, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. Between the foxes and feral cats, their combined impacts have led to the extinction of almost 30 native mammals from mainland South Australia and continue to threaten many more. [1] 

In 2015 a Threat Abatement Plan for predation by feral cats set out a national framework to guide and coordinate Australia’s response to the impacts of feral cats on biodiversity. It identified the research, management and other actions needed to ensure the long-term survival of native species and ecological communities affected by predation by feral cats.

Our Cats By-law 2011 - 2019 (By-law No. 6), was created to control and manage cats in our district.The objects of the By-law state that there will be a limit of cat numbers within domestic premises of two individuals, with certain exemptions allowed. During 2017, we will be developing a new Animal Management Plan.

Feral cat reporting website and smartphone App
FeralCatScan is a new project by the Invasive Animals CRC and Australian Government Department of the Environment, and is supported by communities Australia-wide to improve knowledge about feral cats to help protect Australia's threatened wildlife.

[1] Natural Resources Management (NRM) board - Animal Pests of South Australia Factsheet