Feral animals

A feral animal is one that has escaped from a domestic or captive status and is living more or less as wild, or one that is descended from such animals. Some feral animals have been declared as pest species under NSW legislation.

Pest animals present a significant threat to our biosecurity, biodiversity and economy, environment and community wellbeing.

The community and land managers experience the impacts of pest animals in a number of ways, including preying on livestock and wildlife, increased grazing pressures, crop damage and competition with native wildlife.

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 framework, public, private and Aboriginal Land Managers have a shared an equal responsibility to prevent, eliminate and minimise biosecurity risks, including pest animals, across land in NSW. Pest animals are not identified by species but can be considered as any species (other than native species) that presents a biosecurity threat.

The Greater Sydney Local Land Services’ Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Pest Animal Plan 2018-2023 identifies priority pest species for the region and outlines general control and management actions that landowners can undertake to meet their biosecurity duty. The plan identifies the following priority pest species:

  • wild dog
  • feral pig
  • red fox
  • wild rabbit
  • wild deer (all species)
  • cats
  • feral goats
  • Indian myna
  • common carp

For further information, the New South Wales Government’s Department of Primary Industries (DPI) provides details about pest and nuisance animals. The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) provides advice about common problems when living with native animals.

The presence of pest animals should be reported to the Greater Sydney Local Land Service, for information and advice on control methods for pest animals.

Sightings of unusual animals should be reported to NSW DPI, or alternatively phone 1800 680 244.

Pest animal control

Given the impact pest animals have, it is important that everyone plays their part in reducing the risks.

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 all tiers of government, industry and the community need to work together to manage pest animals.

This means all land managers have a responsibility to:

  • know about the priority pests in their area
  • know what actions should be taken to manage these pests
  • take effective action to manage local priority pests.

All land owners including Council have a duty under the Biosecurity Act 2015 to manage pest animals on land they own or manage.

As such, Council currently undertakes a fox control program across its many environmentally sensitive reserves to reduce the impact on local wildlife. Council is also partnering with Greater Sydney Land Services to manage rabbits in key locations across the Central Coast.

Not all animals that cause economic and environmental damage or cause nuisance are declared pests. While the control of species such as peafowl may be an objective of land managers, there is no legislative requirement for landholders to control such species.

For any enquiries relating to fox control or Council's vertebrate pest management programs, or to assist Council in controlling this pest species by reporting any sightings, please call 1300 463 954 or email ask@centralcoast.nsw.gov.au

Council's fox control program

Foxes are threats to many native animals and Council’s fox control program aims to reduce numbers in the Coastal Open Space System (COSS) and other environmentally important areas.

The European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is an opportunistic predator and scavenger with few natural predators in Australia. Evidence identifies red foxes as a primary cause in the decline and extinction of many small and medium-sized rodent and marsupial species in Australia. Foxes also prey on many bird and reptile species.

Central Coast Council commenced a 1080 fox baiting program in 2016 in Council's natural area reserves. This program will be expanded during 2019. The program aims to reduce the impacts of fox predation on native animals, including threatened species, in the below reserves:

  • Rumbalara Reserve (Gosford)
  • The Scenic Road Bushland (Kincumber)
  • Katandra Reserve (Holgate/Lisarow)
  • Siletta Road Bush Reserve (Niagara Park)
  • Kincumba Mountain Reserve
  • Triple Springs Bush Reserve (Matcham)
  • Cutrock Road Reserve (Lisarow)
  • Winney Bay Reserve (Copacabana)
  • Ferntree Close Reserve (Wyoming)
  • James Norton Road Reserve (Macmasters Beach)
  • Hue Hue Road Bushland (Jilliby)
  • Mount Alison Bushland (Jilliby)
  • Mark Foster Reserve (Glenning Valley)
  • Beckingham Road Bushland (Tumbi Umbi)
  • Berkeley Vale Wetland Reserve (Berkeley Vale)
  • Porters Creek Wetland (Watanobbi)
  • Wyong Golf Course Bushland (Wyong)
  • Toukley Wetland (Toukley)
  • Central Coast Hockey Park and Conservation Area

A map showing the location of these reserves can be viewed here. Detailed mapping of bushland reserves in the former Gosford Local Government Area is available using online maps.

“Foxoff” 1080 poison baits are buried where foxes are known to be active. Burying the baits minimising the potential that they will be taken by non-target animals. The baits will remain in place at all times, with warning signs being installed at official accesses to the reserves.

Many Australian native animals are tolerant of 1080 because over 30 Australian native plants produce sodium fluoroacetate; a synthetic version of which is used in 1080 baits.

The concentrations of 1080 used for vertebrate pest management are extremely low and not lethal to humans.

1080 breaks down in water, soil and carcasses over time and has limited impact on the environment.

WARNING: 1080 is lethal to cats and dogs.

All domestic animals must be kept out of 1080 fox baiting areas. Owners are discouraged from allowing domestic pets from entering all of Council's natural area reserves

1080 fox baiting is undertaken in accordance with permit conditions that have been provided by the NSW Government. Council has notified local vets and animal hospitals about the baiting program.

For any enquiries relating to fox control or Council's vertebrate pest management programs, or to assist Council in controlling this pest species by reporting any sightings, please call 1300 463 954 or email ask@centralcoast.nsw.gov.au.

Regional Rabbit Control Program

In NSW, competition and herbivory by the European rabbit is listed as a key threatening process under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. The wild rabbit is identified as a priority pest species in the Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Pest Animal Plan 2018-2023.

Council is participating in a feral rabbit reduction program led by Greater Sydney Local Land Services across the Central Coast. The program will begin on 11 February 2019.

The program involves the release of the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV1-K5), also known as Calicivirus and is designed to complement ongoing control efforts on private and public land.

Council undertakes targeted control actions to manage rabbits, such as baiting, shooting, fumigation or destruction of warrens, on Council owned and managed land on an as needs basis when impact to infrastructure or threat to native flora necessitates.

You can play your part in managing wild rabbits by reporting damage and sightings of feral rabbits to RabbitScan.

Pet rabbit owners

Pet rabbit owners are able to vaccinate their rabbits against the effects of the Calicivirus at their local vets. This vaccination is at the owners cost. Pet owners are encouraged to have their rabbits vaccinated at least two weeks prior to the release date.

Rabbit hutches should also be made mosquito-proof and housed away from interactions with wild rabbits, which can spread diseases to domestic pets. Domestic rabbits should not be free roaming and should be contained in a secure enclosure.

For information about RHDV1-K5, including further information for domestic rabbit owners visit the PestSmart website.

For further information regarding the program, including ways private landholders can control feral rabbits, visit the Greater Sydney Local Land Services website or phone (02) 4724 2100.

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Last updated : Wed 13 Nov 2019