Froggatt Awards

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Froggatt Awards 2020

In 2020 our Froggatt Awards recognised some outstanding achievements in the fight to protect Australia’s native plants and animals from invasive species.

In Tasmania the persistence and dedication shown by a small team of volunteers in eradicating rats from Big Green Island earned them a Froggatt Award.

In Western Australia our awards paid tribute to Dr Dave Algar, the man who spearheaded efforts to reduce the impacts of feral cats in that state.

And in Victoria a Froggatt Award gong went to a project giving land managers the tools to eradicate new weed invasions before the weeds get a stranglehold in sensitive bushland, coastal and alpine environments.

Control and Eradication

Awarded to the project partners of the eradication of black rats from the 125-hectare Big Green Island in Bass Strait: Wildcare Tasmania, Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, Pennicott Foundation and Biosecurity Tasmania.

Big Green Island is a small rocky nature reserve 4km west of Flinders Island. Black rats first arrived on Big Green Island in the 1800s and reached a population of about 10,000. They devastated the breeding population of 45,000 seabirds, including shearwaters, penguins, Cape Barren geese, gulls and terns.

The eradication project involved the deployment of 2200 bait stations across the island during 2016. Volunteers from Tasmania and interstate and staff from Pennicott Wilderness Journeys walked the island daily to check rat-baiting stations.

Baiting eliminated more than 99% of the invasive rats and Parks and Wildlife Service staff located and dispatched the last few, assisted by a conservation detector dog used on Macquarie Island. Success was declared in March 2019 after two years without detecting black rats on the island.

The project was a community and government collaboration involving the Wildcare volunteers, Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, Biosecurity Tasmania, the Pennicott Foundation, the Aboriginal community and the island’s lessee.

The project’s success was a result of persistence and dedication by all involved and has resulted in increased protection for the island’s biodiversity values.

Policy and Law

Awarded to the Weeds at the Early Stage of Invasion Project, a decision-making framework and support program developed by the Victorian Government to guide action in response to weeds at the early stages of invasion.

The project team is powered by Kate Blood and Bianca Gold of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

The program was first developed in 2011. Tools developed included a 78-page manual, individual manuals for each stage of the decision-making process, field recording templates, checklists and a seasonal newsletter.

The program facilitates a preventative approach, applying the principles of the invasion curve that it is much more successful and cost-effective to eradicate weeds at the early stage of invasion rather than try to manage them when they become widespread.

By applying the Weeds at the Early Stage of Invasion framework, resources can be efficiently directed to respond to a new weed threat. While the program was developed for Victoria it could be easily adapted to all of Australia.

The Weeds at the Early Stage of Invasion team publishes a quarterly newsletter, holds regular training on weed identification and the use of the decision-making methodology and has an active presence on social media. A special bushfire recovery edition was published in response to the devastating 2019-20 black summer bushfires and the resulting weed risk.

Bianca Gold and Kate Blood Weeds at the Early Stages of Invasion project.

Control and Eradication

Awarded to Dr Dave Algar, principal scientist at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Western Australia, who has spearheaded efforts to reduce the impacts of feral cats in Western Australia.

Dr Algar led the team that developed ERADICAT, a bait now used in Western Australia for feral cat control, where most native mammals have a high tolerance to 1080. Prior to this there was no cat-specific bait available for use in Australia.

ERADICAT is made mainly of kangaroo meat that looks like a chipolata sausage and injected with the toxin sodium monofluoroacetate (1080). ERADICAT has been shown to provide effective and sustained control of cat populations at the landscape level, allowing the survival of small mammals hunted by cats.

Dave was also the driving force for the eradication of feral cats from the 62,000 hectare Dirk Hartog Island. The island, a national park in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, had lost 10 of its 13 ground-dwelling mammal species due to predation by feral cats and the impacts of sheep and goats.

The last feral cat was removed from the island in October 2016 and 46,000 km of monitoring and 114,684 camera trap nights have confirmed success, which was independently confirmed by Island Conservation in 2018. This was the largest eradication of feral cats from an island in the world and means that all of Western Australia’s islands are free of feral cats.

The success of this eradication along with the removal of goats and sheep has inspired Return to 1616, an ecological restoration program that would see the reintroduction to Dirk Hartog Island of lost mammal species and the recovery of the ecosystems to a time before European occupation.

Dave represents the Western Australian government on the national feral cat taskforce and is now working to eradicate feral cats from Christmas Island.

Dr Dave Algar-2020 Froggatt Award Winner

In 2019 our Froggatt Awards went to Southern Downs Regional Council, Milo Yeigh and to the Hon David Littleproud.

In 2018 our Froggatt Awards went to community group Save Kosci, NSW Department of Primary Industries and Tarrangower Cactus Control Group.

In 2017 our Froggatt Awards went to the independent panel reviewing the national biosecurity system and Nic Gill, author of Animal Eco-Warriors: Humans and Animals Working Together to Protect Our Planet.

In 2016 our Froggatt Awards went to Gregory Andrews, Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner, SPRATS, the Sea Spurge Action Teams and Ecology Australia.

In 2015 our Froggatt Awards went to Australian Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, NSW red imported fire ant response and Senate Environment and Communications References Committee.

Dear National Deer Management Coordinator,

Please accept this as a submission to the National Feral Deer Action Plan.

[Your personalised message will appear here] 

I am very concerned about the spread of deer and am pleased that a national plan has finally been developed. Without urgent action, funding and commitment from all levels of government it is clear that feral deer will continue to spread and damage our environment.

The feral deer population in Australia is growing rapidly and spreading across the country, damaging our natural environment, causing havoc for farmers and foresters and threatening public safety. Unlike much of the world where deer are native, our plants and wildlife haven’t evolved to deal with these heavy hard hooved animals with a voracious appetite.
With no natural predators and an ability to adapt to almost all environments, they could occupy almost all of Australia unless stopped. Despite this, state and territory governments have been slow to respond and in Victoria and Tasmania they are still protected by law for the enjoyment of hunters.

This plan should be adopted by all governments but must also be underpinned by dedicated funding and clear responsibilities. A plan without funding or accountability is a plan that will fail and Australia cannot afford for this to fail.

In order to prevent the spread of feral deer and reduce their impact on our native wildlife, ecosystems and agriculture, I ask that the following recommendations be adopted for the final National Feral Deer Action Plan:

1. All federal, state and territory governments should adopt the National Feral Deer Action Plan and declare feral deer to be a priority pest animal species.

2. All federal, state and territory governments should commit to:

  • Contain deer to the existing large population areas.
  • Reduce and eradicate smaller and isolated populations.
  • Protect important environmental assets such as world and national heritage areas.
  • Develop and fund regional plans and strategies to manage deer populations which involve land managers across all tenures.

3. In order to drive action and the success of this plan, there should be dedicated Commonwealth funding and support for:

  • A permanent national feral deer coordinator position.
  • A permanent federal feral deer action committee with representatives from the commonwealth and state and territory governments and the environmental and agricultural sectors.
  • An ongoing public education campaign on feral deer.
  • A network of regional feral deer coordinators to drive local action across tenures.

4. The expected outcomes for the plan need to be more ambitious, with clear interim targets including:

  • Within one year, all States and Territories should have in place arrangements to implement the National Feral Deer Action Plan, including allocating dedicated funding for implementation.
  • Within one year, feral deer management plans should be developed for key environmental assets of national significance, including the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the Greater Blue Mountains, the Australian Alps, the Gondwana Rainforests and the Wet Tropics of Queensland.
  • Within five years coordinated landscape scale management should be in place where land owners, land managers, government and community are demonstrably working together.

5. A national feral deer containment map with three zones should be adopted. It should be more ambitious than the zone map in the current draft plan and there should be greater clarity in the naming of the zones. Improvements that should be adopted include:

  • Renaming the zones to better reflect the management intention to ‘Containment Zone 1’ (the current large population zone), ‘Containment Buffer Zone 2’ (the current buffer zone) and ‘Eradication and prevention Zone 3’ (the current small isolated population zone).
  • The NSW northern rivers area should be in the eradication and prevention zone as there are few feral deer currently in this region and eradicating isolated populations and preventing spread into this area is still possible.
  • The whole of South Australia should be in the eradication and prevention zone as eradication is the goal of the SA Government.
  • The Tasmanian region in the containment zone should be smaller to reflect greater ambition and potential for eradication of deer populations.
  • In eastern Victoria areas such as Wilson’s Promontory, Westernport islands and the Mornington Peninsula should be in the eradication and prevention zone.

6. There should be consistent laws and regulations across all states and territories that:

  • Recognise feral deer as a pest animal and treat them as such.
  • Establish a clear responsibility for all landholders and managers to be involved in feral deer control programs.
  • Set clear penalties to stop the wilful or negligent release of feral deer.
  • Prevent new deer farms in areas where no feral deer are present and phase out all deer farms in the eradication and prevention zone.
  • Enable enforcement of compliance, including on government land.

I support the follow principles being adopted in the final National Feral Deer Action Plan:

  • Feral deer are a pest and should be treated as such on all tenures, except on approved deer farms.
  • Federal, state and territory governments have a responsibility to fund the outcomes under this plan.
  • All land managers in areas where feral deer are present have a responsibility to be involved in feral deer control programs.
  • The focus of management efforts should be on eradication of isolated, satellite populations, protection of key environmental assets currently impacted and stopping the spread to new regions.
  • Feral deer control should be undertaken humanely, safely and professionally according to agreed protocols and all tools which meet this criteria should be adopted, including aerial control.
  • Funding for coordination, regional planning and community engagement is necessary for effective feral deer management.
  • Ongoing management and follow up control efforts are required to achieve long lasting results.
  • Rules and regulations should be consistent across jurisdictions and land tenures.
  • Recreational hunting is not an effective strategy for feral deer control and should not be relied upon.
[Your name]
[Your email address]
[Your suburb], [Your state]