Wild dogs, feral pigs and rabbits will be priority targets for the Invasive Animals CRC as it embarks on a new $72 million research effort over the next five years, backed by Federal Government and other participant funding.
It has been estimated that impacts of pest animals in reducing agricultural productivity and increasing environmental damage to biodiversity cost Australia about $1 billion each year.
Invasive Animals CRC chief executive Andreas Glanznig said that growing rabbit numbers due to increased food availability and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) resistance, expanding carp populations after floods and increasing livestock losses to wild dogs and pigs are key research targets for the next five years of research.
The new research projects, involving 26 partners, started on July 1.
Mr Glanznig said more humane control products, currently in the regulatory pipeline, such as new wild dog, fox and feral pig baits and delivery systems are expected to be commercially released in the year ahead.
The ultimate objective was to ensure Australia’s farmers and land managers were not exposed to the risk of having inadequate technologies against pest animals to protect Australia’s biodiversity assets and long-term food security.
Mr Glanznig said the Invasive Animals CRC had set five key objectives by 2017:
- No new vertebrate pests established in Australia – through developing a national incursions response system including research underpinning an optimal strategy to eradicate species that might emerge in a new area (foxes in Tasmania, as a theoretical example), and detecting new pest fish incursions, particularly tilapia, using new environmental DNA techniques.
- Prediction and control of emerging outbreaks – research underpinning strategic forecasting and planning to enable pre-emptive invasive animal management in priority regions.
- Landscape-scale recovery of key land and water regions, after humane control of rabbits and wild dogs. For example, improved strategies for the management of wild dogs in urban fringe environments through collection of ecological information on wild dogs and implementation of current and new control technologies; and investigating the relationships between native and introduced predators (wild dogs, foxes and cats) in Eastern Australia in order to improve management to limit impacts on biodiversity and primary production.
- New social networks and institutions for better community engagement to control pest animals, for instance stronger community involvement in citizen science mapping, such as FeralScan; ongoing research to enable improved strategic wild dog management in sheep and cattle regions of Australia; and improved agricultural productivity from accelerated adoption of pest animal control strategies and technologies.
- An enduring entity for research, training and support of pest animal control across Australia.
The investors and participants in the Invasive Animals CRC represent commercial enterprises, Research & Development Corporations, State and Federal Government agencies; universities and international collaborators in the US, England and New Zealand. the full list of participants can be seen here.
More producer-level information is available through the PestSmart Toolkit suite of communications products, accessible here.