Feral Animals: Why They’re More than a Nuisance to Farmers
The very limited rains we’ve had over the past 6 months have put a strain on many things … the feed supply for our cattle and sheep, the sub-soil moisture levels, our established trees, and our rainwater tanks.
But we’ve recently been battling with something even more problematic than any of these.
An influx of feral goats.
Because ‘Border Park’ directly borders the Murray Sunset National Park (hence the name!), our paddocks are often a ‘home away from home’ for native and feral animals.
While these goat have been pushing through our boundary fence in search of food, their main interest is water. (There are no troughs, dams or permanent water holes in the park, so our troughs, and those of our neighbours, provide the nearest water many, many miles). All water used for our livestock is piped here from the Murray River, over 50km away.
It’s our habit to only have our troughs turned on if there are livestock in that particular paddock.
On our southern block, with all the troughs empty, the intruding goats were obviously pretty thirsty.
They’re survivors though, and discovered a drip down a pipe on the side of a water tank. This drip was making a small pool on a rock, and this was the sole water source for over 200 goats for many weeks (after which they were gratefully culled by VIC National Parks).
Not only were the goats eating down our precious pastures, but they camped around this tank, and decimated the small trees and shrubs around it and bared the soil making it vulnerable to wind erosion.
Although some of them may re-shoot, it’s a devastating result for our tree lines, and a reminder that feral animals cause terrific damage to our fragile land.
As stewards of the land, it’s our job to do all we can to protect and build up our precious soil and ecosystems.
And unfortunately, sometimes that job is made more difficult by feral pests.