We at SSAA National know there is no one simple answer to managing the impacts of Australia’s most damaging species on private properties, public forests and parks across the country and that is why we are calling on new and existing SSAA members to be part of the solution…
Using all the tools in the toolbox
We at the SSAA believe that we must use all the management tools available to address our introduced and native wildlife management issues. The majority of wildlife managers agree that to have an effective management regime, you need to use all the tools in the toolbox to achieve the best results. Selective shooting in conjunction with a mix of other control methods will enhance introduced species management efforts.
The majority of SSAA’s 130,000 members across the country participate in hunting activities. We know they voluntarily put their own time, money and resources into managing introduced species such as rabbits, foxes, feral cats, goats, dogs and pigs. All of these species cause significant levels of environmental and economic damage across Australia.
A visual presence
To kick off our Be Part of the Solution campaign, SSAA National has designed and implemented a billboard at Canberra Airport and posters around public locations in Melbourne’s CBD. The image of a fox has been used for our campaign because this animal has been identified as one of Australia’s most damaging introduced species, impacting both our small native wildlife and livestock.
The economic and environmental impacts of species
The Counting the Cost: Impact of Invasive Animals in Australia report by the Cooperative Research Centre for Pest Animal Control in 2004 conservatively totalled the impact cost of introduced species to be $720 million per year in Australia based on economic and environmental losses. Since that breakthrough study, a new report titled The Economic Impacts of Vertebrate Pests in Australia (2009) by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre has calculated the direct economic impact alone to be $743.5 million per year. There have also been many other studies that have painted bleak pictures of ever increasing environmental, social and economic costs. Foxes, rabbits, feral pigs and feral cats are reported to be responsible for up to 83 per cent of all economic loss inflicted in this country.
The Counting the Cost report estimated the economic and environmental impact cost of foxes alone to be $227.5 million per year. Rabbits accounted for $113.11 million, feral cats for $146 million, feral pigs for $106.5 million, feral goats for $7.74 million, wild dogs (dingoes and feral dogs) for $66.3 million and feral camels for $0.21 million. The Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre has now recently estimated direct economic damage caused by the ever-increasing feral camel population to be in excess of $15 million per year.
All of these introduced animals can be targeted by licensed hunters in organised control programs in groups or individually. Such actions can be run in conjunction with other control measures currently in place to reduce impacts and populations. The cost to the community of hunter participation is very low because, like many thousands of people across the country each day, these hunters volunteer their time and related costs to be involved in valuable conservation activities.
We at SSAA National support the involvement of our members in property-based management plans where they develop working relationships with farmers and land managers across the country. We also support our members’ efforts in helping state government departments manage species in public parks and reserves across the country. Since the success of Operation Bounceback in the re-establishment of yellow-footed rock wallaby populations in the Flinders Ranges National Park in the early 1990s, many programs involving licensed hunters have resulted in real conservation benefits across public land throughout the country.