Feral Dogs, cats and foxes

The issue of Feral animals is always on our radar here in the hills.
The community has been active over a number of years in control and research into the issue.
We have settled on a position of a level of acceptance that there will always be a level of feral animal presence in our environment and that to some extent they play their part in the balance of things.
However, we also know that we cannot let numbers get out of control because then this balance is unsettled.
Additionally, we are aware that from time to time particular ferals will become nuisances towards domestic animals and even occasionally towards humans (very rare).
Many of us pay rural rates to Local Land Services (LLS) for them to assist us with these controls but the reality is we get virtually no help from this quarter. I highlight here that many, many residents have tried to open up this pathway over the years but it has always led to a dead end.
After much lobbying by us and other Shire groups and individuals, for some time Byron Council had assisted with paying for the costs of retaining a trapper leaving us (in our area) with the cost of paying the trapper’s other costs.
This was initially $100 a kill in the case of a feral dog. These days this is $200 each.
Unfortunately, Council no longer is willing to pay its contribution falling back on the argument that it is not its responsibility but that of the LLS.
We continue to push the Council for a better outcome but with the revolving door of managers with this responsibility at Council, it is a frustrating and boring argument.
In the meanwhile, this community has operated with a community fund (held by Goonengerry Landcare) which combines individual and property donations and which is activated when a problem feral or pack is highlighted.
Right now it seems to be one of those moments when we have an upswing in feral dog and fox activity around the top of Goonengerry and with indications that these then spread out mostly east and north.
When we have had a moment of consistent sightings and nuisance we can decide to activate the community fund to get the trapper in.
Note that the trapper we use uses soft jaw traps (less issue for the collateral catch) and euthanised with a rifle.
I would normally recommend this right now but need to layout the now much higher costs involved.
Say we wanted to get the trapper to focus on 3-5 properties where sightings have been most prevalent.
  • He would charge $200 per property to come out with his dog and do some sniffing around and set traps if appropriate. Note here that if some of the properties are adjoining we could probably reduce the charge from 5 properties to the equivalent of maybe 3.
  • He will then come and check these traps every 3 days at $40/hour.
  • Each kill is another charge of $200.
  • Other potential charges; if any of his traps are damaged by landowners driving over them, $150. If he is called out in the middle of the night extra charge of $150 (as opposed to after 6am).
So potentially to cover 5 properties near each other over a 2-3 week targetted period we might be looking at somewhere between $1000 and $2000 depending on how many animals are caught.
We have $480 in the fund right now.
So if we are to do this we need another round of inputs.
Let me know your thoughts.
cheers, alan

More on tree clearing Repentance Creek

Update 12/12/2018

The landowners have just been in contact with me and we will sit down early next week.
They have thought long & hard and now recognize that they need to put things right and are figuring out what that might look like, from re-planting to working with DPI to adjust their Timber Plantation Agreement.
They are open to input from Council, DPI and most importantly the community.
Council and DPI processes are now in play and we will see were these go but perhaps we have an opportunity to repair and enhance this damage both to the environment and neighbourly relationships.
Original Story
In short, he does not see the problem.
He believes (a) it is his land and he can do what he wants within the laws which he says he has complied with and is within. (b) He has only just begun, there is a lot more to come.
On (a) when I checked this out with him he really did not have much exact knowledge of the laws or rules, for example, didn’t seem to be aware of the Shire’s tree preservation order or rules on clearing on steep land.
On (b) I do not think he is relying on some forestry agreement (this was the story Council came back to us with previously). He is more relying on “it is my land and I can do what I want and I don’t bother any of my neighbours, so why are they bothering me” kind of approach.
Some history;
When Repentance Creek Rd was sealed, about seven years ago, the community worked very hard to not have the road widened to the “legal” width to ensure we didn’t loose too many trees. At the time the Manager at Council in the Environment Dept was a local, Hank Bower, and we had great success. Hank spent hours of his own time tagging valuable trees, prior to the sealing, to ensure the roads dept didn’t “accidentally” take them out.
The next Environment Council-Manager followed on and did more good by having installed along  Repentance Creek Rd, markers highlighting it is HCV (high conservation zone). These were installed as part of Council’s Roadside Veg Plan and which includes this now devastated section.
The Council may have more leverage as it seems clear that the work has crossed over into this road reserve area.
When contacting Council please make the above point about the road reserve and HCV. This will give Council leverage to take action.
Other points highlighted to me by others;
  • It is clear that the owner has removed the trees to open up an extensive valley view. In the process, they have completely decimated the natural environment and koala habitat.
  • I  note that there was no traffic management at all in place during the works. Large trees were being removed less than 2m (on a steep embankment) from passing cars with no signage or traffic personnel in place
  • Allowing the owner and the contractor to get away with this act of blatant vandalism will set a dangerous precedent for anyone in the area wishing to make illegal changes to their property in the interest of increasing property values. We urge all relevant bodies to act wherever they can.

Environmental weeds update from Goonengerry Landcare

Following on from last years focus on 5 environmental weeds Goonengerry Landcare would like this quarter to focus your attention on two others;
1. Ragweed or Asthma Plant; Ambrosia Artemisiifolia L.
In particular we refer to the imminent seed set by ragweed, which is everywhere along our roadsides
Ragweed has been increasing exponentially along Byron roadsides for the last few years and of course invades adjoining land from there. It has many issues in the environment and in particular is allergenic to a large percentage of the population. Ragweed also releases chemicals into the soil that are toxic to grasses and plants we are trying to grow in addition to the dense shade it casts.
The attached fact sheet discusses it more fully. Where applicable it can be slashed/brush-cut out of existence plus the recommended herbicide options are available though unnecessary in many instance.
If we all did our external and internal roadsides this would make a big difference.
2. Kahili Ginger; Hedychium gardnerianum
Kahali Ginger starting to spread through the forest fringes with failure to control this species at an early stage of population development could result in significant damage to upland subtropical and temperate rain forests and other moist, cool forest habitats.
Further guidance on our local weeds can be found at; http://www.byron.nsw.gov.au/weed-profiles
Cheers, Alan
PS; weeds are easier to dig and pull in the wet☺
Attached informational Sheets