|In Australia, feral animals typically have few natural predators or fatal diseases and generally have high reproductive rates. As a result, their populations have not naturally diminished and multiply rapidly if conditions are favourable. Feral animals impact on native species and agriculture by predation, competition for food and shelter, destroying habitat, increase erosion, and by spreading diseases. Local volunteer shooter such as Patrick and property owners that facilitate them. They not only protect our unique native animals and overall ecology but also local farmers productivity. This takes time and costs them personally in resources with little compensation/ broader community recognition.
When I asked Patrick about this he said
"The farmers are very appreciative and willing to host me on their farms. I don’t hear from the town folk nor do I need too. Everyone’s just got to play their part and this is mine."
What impact have you had?
"Last year (2019) was the first year I started counting foxes killed (besides doing competition). Mostly I just shoot in the immediate area consisting of 5 odd properties (with explicit permission). Despite the small catchment area still managed to control 187 foxes. I find piggeries, in particular, a goldmine for foxes, they are everywhere due to the constant food source. Doesn’t matter if I have just shot there the previous night, I will still find some more."
"I use a thermal scope which is much more effective than a spotlight and I can knock out a lot more of the resident population which limits the greatest impact on the environment/livestock rather than only getting the opportunistic roamers. For example, I help control foxes on the Yellinup piggery, and though I haven’t managed to permanently get rid of their foxes since I can only manage to do a quarter of the property when I visit, I end up getting 10-12 a night in that one spot. The manager said the months in which I was shooting they got the best yields. Ended up protecting farmers productivity and the surrounding environment."
"Just on my property a lot of pygmy possums have come back and even some brush-tailed phascogales but I think that was more from getting rid of a couple of feral cats. Foxes tend to be more opportunistic eaters of the weak and young. Rather target easy prey such as birds and livestock then hunt down the harder to catch native mammals."
If you wish to do your part and think like Patrick, then protecting farmland and the environment might be your forte.
Please do so (with owners permission) you have OHCG's appreciation. Also if you'd like to map/record your effort got to https://feralscan.org.au/default.aspx
It's easy to run via their app while out and about with support available and confidential.