January 2011 is Feral Month and the CRC for Invasive Species is inviting everyone to contribute their feral sightings towards a national map to increase understanding of feral distributions across the country.
Do you have ferals in your neighbourhood, shire, neck-of-the-woods? (And no, I’m not talking about your human neighbours). Most of you would probably encounter feral species fairly regularly no matter which part of Australia you live in.
The word ‘feral’ is generally applied to non-native animals that cause serious damage to human interests (mainly in agricultural industries). We have a few of these in Australia; foxes, cats, pigs, rabbits, goats, cane toads, carp, starlings, house mice, horses, camels and the list goes on.
And it’s not just the damage to human interests. Ferals have a huge environmental cost. Some prey upon and out compete our native wildlife and are likely to have contributed to many of the species extinctions in Australia since European settlement.
Much ecological research is devoted to understanding how ferals operate and how we can control them. It is a complex problem and a lot of people spend a lot of time thinking up innovative, cost-effective and broadscale ways to kill our feral foes.
The ABC Feral Month Website will be collecting your sightings throughout the month of January. Your little bit of information can help build a more complete picture of feral distributions in Australia.
* I can’t help but mention, wild dogs are classified as ferals in this project. There is a distinction between the native dingo (Canis lupus dingo) and feral dingo–domestic hybrids. Both dogs cause stock losses, and are considered a ‘pest’ , however there is a growing body of research suggesting dogs effectively control other ferals such as foxes. But don’t get me started on that subject! This is a highly contentious issue with a lot of passion on either side of the argument – definitely deserving of its own post…stay tuned.