Goat control in the Arden Vale Ranges

Coordinated goat control is helping to protect native plants in the Arden Vale Ranges

An annual feral goal muster was conducted across Arden Vale encompassing Dutchman’s Stern Conservation Park. This resulted in an additional 3,500 goats being removed from the Ranges.

The Living Flinders project covers some 1.3 million hectares of internationally significant landscapes in the Southern Flinders Ranges. It is a natural hotspot for native plants and animals including the vulnerable Yellow-Footed Rock-Wallaby and supports critically endangered Peppermint Box and Grey Box Woodlands.

The region contains some of Australia’s most ancient natural landscapes supporting an incredible diversity of plant and animals. The wide diversity of habitat ranges from arid ecosystems, mallee scrub and endangered woodlands and grasslands to ephemeral creek systems.

Our Arden Vale Pest Management Coordinator Mick Durant, commented, “feral goats place significant pressure on native flora and fauna in the Rangelands through competitive grazing for food, water and shelter.”

Goats have severe impacts on a range of iconic native shrub species including Bursaria spinosaEremophila alternifoliaSpyridium phlebophyllumHakea edniana and Acacia continua.

Shrubs that would be naturally abundant on rocky slopes and would normally be up to two metres in height are repeatedly browsed to less than a metre tall and prevented from flowering and setting seed – eventually leading to plant death and the loss of some species from the area.

In some areas less than 10% of Eremophila alternifolia plants will reach their natural height and produce flowers and seeds.

Eight permanent monitoring sites have been set up in the Arden Vale Ranges to track the damage that goats are doing and to detect responses to goat control activity. The eventual aim is to be able to know when goat impacts are too high and additional control efforts are required.

The loss of large shrubs from the rocky slopes also impacts Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby by removing food resources and reduces the cover for wallabies to evade predators like foxes and wedge-tailed Eagles.

By employing all available methods of control across the year it is hoped that goat numbers can be kept at a minimum, thereby improving the condition of native vegetation and pastures, and protecting valuable plant species and native mammals such as the Yellow-footed Rock-Wallaby.

“I see many rocky outcrops and slopes where you would expect to see a diversity of tall shrub species in flower but they look like just bare ground, but often if you look closely these plants are still there but they are ankle high and severely stunted by over browsing by the goats” Mick added.

The feral eradication project is a key priority of the Living Flinders program.

Achieved through a partnership of government and non-government organisations including Greening Australia, the program is supported by landholders on more than 12 stations, who now look to restore the ecology of the entire region. The development of a common vision between the project partners has been achieved through an award winning collaborative conservation action planning process.

Spryridium phlebophyllumSpryridium phlebophyllum

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