Feral animals have wreaked massive environmental damage on Australia’s unique mammal population.
Of the 21 completely extinct marsupials and rodents in Australia, the red fox and cat have most probably contributed to the extinction of all but two.
Foxes and cats are also blamed for the loss from the mainland of another nine species that survive on islands, sometimes precariously.
Rabbits have been ranked with foxes and cats as among Australia’s worst pests, wild pigs have become major agricultural and environmental problems, cattle in the Kimberley region damage scarce rainforest tracts, and deer escaping from poorly-managed or failed deer farms are out of control in Queensland, Victoria and NSW.
Feral horse numbers are expanding across the Australian Alps and in parts of Queensland, NT and WA where they cause immense ecological damage. Despite this, governments have been unwilling to reduce horse numbers.
Funding recreational hunting as a primary method of control is a waste of taxpayers’ money. At best, hunters can supplement more effective methods of feral animal control or provide control in small, accessible areas.
Feral deer are probably Australia’s worst emerging pest problem, causing damage to the natural environment and agricultural businesses.
Imports of hybrids and variants of existing pests and weeds could worsen Australia’s environmental problems yet there is little regulatory attention.