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Community engagement the key to curbing ferals

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Sustainable Industries

Brian Foley has seen first-hand the devastation wrought by feral pests on native wildlife.

The chair of Wheatbelt wildlife rehab Marsupials Mammas and Pappas, Foley has his hands full caring for animals impacted by invasive species like foxes, cats, pigs and rabbits.

That is why he gave his tick of approval to two feral animal control workshops run by Wheatbelt NRM over the past fortnight.

Supported by the State NRM program, the events delivered expert knowledge to 25 interested community members in York and Toodyay.

“It’s been very good to get a bit of an insight from professionals in how to coordinate the community into fighting all feral animals,” Foley said during last week’s workshop at the Toodyay CWA Hall.

“We’re just in the throes of building some release pens on different properties, different fencing techniques and predator control generally is what we’re after.

“It’s great just to get like-minded people together and get a bit of extra knowledge.”

A diverse crowd turned out for the workshops, from cattle producers to lifestyle block owners, small-scale farmers and local government officials.

Wheatbelt NRM’s Jacquie Lucas said the audience showed the broad range of stakeholders impacted by feral animals, with the events also including guided training for people seeking to obtain their 1080 accreditation.

“It’s really good that people are interested and willing to work towards this important issue for the whole community,” she said.

More workshops will take place later this year, with online access in the pipeline to extend the knowledge to those who cannot attend in person.

Peter Adams from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, who presented at the workshop, said local engagement and coordinated community-wide action are the keys to effectively managing feral pests.

“Community engagement and involvement is a prerequisite for effective pest management,” he said.

“In the long term the number of tools we can use are decreasing, so we need to use them smarter and apply them in an integrated manner to get best success.”

Guests heard from DPIRD’s Jim Miller and Adams about trapping feral pigs, feral animal control expert Gary Wilkinson and fencing specialist Gallagher’s Chris Pitts.

There was a bonus also for attendees Greg Warburton and Karen Hansen, who won the door prize in Toodyay and York, respectively, and each took home a motion sensor camera valued at $500.

Wheatbelt NRM would like to acknowledge the assistance of local partners the York River Conservation Society, Toodyay Naturalists Club, Shire of Toodyay and Toodyay Friends of the River.

These workshops are supported by funding from the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program.

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