Many animal species have been introduced deliberately or inadvertently to Australia, and many of these have become serious problems in the Outback. Feral animals are detrimental to Outback ecosystems in different ways, either competing with native animals for food, preying on native animals, degrading water sources or soil, spreading disease or poisoning native predators.
Cats and foxes are two feral animals have contributed to one of the world’s greatest environmental catastrophes – the extinction of about 20 Australian mammal species and the decline of many other species of birds. A recent study in the Kimberley alone, estimated that there are about 100,000 cats in the region, killing at lease half a million native animals per night. Can toads have also contributed to major declines of several native species and their population continues to increase in Outback areas, and they are spreading into Western Australia at a rate of 60kms per year.
Other abundant feral animals are: rabbits, feral cattle, pigs, horses, donkeys, camels and goats. Their existence in the Outback causes widespread damage, from the destruction of native animal’s habitats and water sources, to impacting and damaging soil, spreading weeds and disease, and damaging fences and other infrastructure.
Although feral animals have done significant damage to flora and fauna in Outback WA, with proper management feral animal numbers can be controlled, providing support to declining native species and giving them the opportunity to recover, while improving the health of our rivers and landscapes.