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Feral goat damage - an overview


 
Feral goats are one of Australia's most serious pest species. They can significantly alter vegetation communities and can seriously degrade landscapes and the productive capacity of farmland. They cause an estimated $7.7 million damage to Australia’s agricultural industries and economy each year, and cause untold damage to our environment, biodiversity, cultural areas and significant sites. They occur in all states and territories and on many coastal islands. Once established, feral goat populations can be difficult to control. 
 
Feral goats also require ongoing management. Farmers, communities and governments invest valuable resources and time addressing the problems caused by feral goats, and undertaking control to prevent damage to resources/assets. The damage they can cause to farm infrastructure, crops, farmland and vegetation can have long-lasting impacts. By bringing updated information together on feral goats across the country, farmers, community-groups and governments can work collaboratively to control populations and manage the problems they cause. The aim of reducing feral goats to where damage levels are low is achieveable if cooperation is reached.

Agricultural pest

Feral goats cause significant problems for Australian farmers and primary producers because they:

  • Compete with livestock for pasture and access to water.
  • Graze perennial and annual vegetation - especially palatable species, grasses, ground covers and native vegetation
  • Browse plants used in revegetation programs and land restoration activities.
  • Damage crops, fruit and associated infrastructure.
  • Cause soil erosion by trampling soil and grazing intensively in selected area - which can reduce the productive capacity of farmland.
  • Promote the colonisation and spread of agricultural weeds in farmland.
  • Damage fences, farm gates, and other infrastructure.
  • Carry diseases of livestock, and are a human health risk (eg Q-Fever).
  • Present a serious risk of exotic diseases (such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease) if introduced to Australia.
  • Threaten food security for Australians.
  • Require ongoing expenditure through control and addressing the problems they cause (eg. fence repair).
  • Mix with domestic livestock (eg sheep) hindering livestock management activities.

Environmental pest

 
Feral goats are an environmental pest because they:
  • Prevent the regrowth of plants, and can cause local extinction of palatable plant species
  • Contribute to land and habitat degradation
  • Change species composition in native vegetation, decrease seed production and change the seed bank in soil.
  • Spread weeds
  • Browse plants used in revegetation programs and land restoration activities.
  • Damage sensitive areas and ecosystems
  • Compete with native animals for food and shelter
  • Damage culturally significant sites, including rock art.
  • Damage bush tucker and water resources
  • Causing soil erosion through trampling
  • Browse and graze native vegetation which can lead to permanent changes to plant communitites   

National Feral Goat Threat Abatement Plan (TAP)

 
The damage feral goats cause to the environment is so significant that 'Competition and land degradation by unmanaged goats' has been listed as a key threatening process for biodiversity conservation, and a National Threat Abatement Plan (TAP) has been developed to help address the management of feral goats nationally. The Threat Abatement Plan establishes a national framework to guide and coordinate Australia's response to the impacts of unmanaged goats. It identifies the research, management and other actions needed to ensure the long-term survival of native species and ecological communities affected by competition and land degradation caused by unmanaged goats. The plan should be read in conjunction with the publication Background document for the threat abatement plan - which provides information on unmanaged goat characteristics, biology and distribution; impacts on environmental, economic, social and cultural values; and current management practices and measures. FeralGoatScan aims to support the goals of the Feral Goat TAP by gathering vital information on the species and sharing that information with land managers to address the problems this pest causes. 
 
For more information about the Feral Goat TAP visit:  
 

Read more

Managing Vertebrate Pests – Feral Goats: http://www.daff.gov.au/brs/land/feral-animals/species/goats


 
Recent Records
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TOTAL
RECORDS
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CONTROL ADVICE

  • Mustering feral goats can remove a large number of animals in one go - Geoff 
  • Email your control tips to feralgoatscan@feralscan.org.au and we’ll display them here
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