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Goats take over bush

Tuesday, 21st January, 2014

By Erica Visser

In the past month, two thousand feral goats have been culled from just one family property near Broken Hill.

Sue Andrews has worked for over 30 years at her 50,000 hectare property, Avondale, located 34 kilometres from Broken Hill.

She is also the Vice President of the Pastoralists’ Association of West Darling.

According to Mrs Andrews, there has never been so many feral goats in the Western region.

“We’re on flat country here, so normally we don’t get goats,” she told the BDT.

“The problem is that it’s so dry in Queensland that they’re coming south, they just seem to be coming out of the woodwork.

“At the moment we’re experiencing extreme drought conditions and what we’ve been doing on our property is getting rid of them, we’ve had about 2000 in the last month.”

Mrs Andrews said that after catching the goats, she kept them in an enclosure where the family was forced to feed them for around a fortnight before they can be transferred.

According to Mrs Andrews, around 90 per cent of the world’s population consumes goat, so there is a large market for it.

However, she said that the goat plague had not provided herself with much income and was more a problem.

Given the drought, it is difficult to feed all of Avondales’s livestock, let alone the goats.

“I wouldn’t say you’re going to be a multimillionaire by collecting feral goats,” Mrs Andrews said.

“We’d rather not have the goats at all, we do cull them completely if we can.

“People in the Western Division do dispose of goats and try to get rid of them the right way.”

Mrs Andrews said that the pest numbers had been under control until around six months ago.

“I would say the problem is universal at the moment and it’s an indication of how dry it is north of us.”

One Victorian man wrote to Albury-Wodonga based newspaper the Border Mail with fears the feral goat was taking over the outback, after a drive through Wentworth, Broken Hill, Bourke and Cobar.

“Feral goats outnumbered sightings of kangaroos by about 200 to one at best,” the reader told the Border Mail.

“The big red kangaroo has been almost shot out of existence; kangaroo meat for Russia and local consumption, I guess.

“The invasion of the goats is as big a threat as the cane toad to the natural environment but nothing is being done and the population is expanding out of control.”

Mrs Andrews said that whilst goats were overtaking the region, the kangaroo was still alive and well.

In fact, there was a “real problem” with kangaroos coming into Broken Hill.

“I think you see a lot of goats if you are driving along the road because we get one shower of rain and a line of green runs off the bitumen,” Mrs Andrews said.

“Goats aren’t scared of cars, very rarely do they get hit, whereas kangaroos are a lot more flighty and scared.

“That would be the only significant factor (in the difference in numbers), we have a real problem with it being so dry with kangaroos coming in closer to roads to find water.”

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