Australia’s Major Introduced Pests
As an secluded continent Australia’s native animals and plants had been co-existing harmoniously for millions of years. Since Europeans settled in 1788 they have had to compete with introduced species, which have caused major impact on Australia’s ecosystem. wild animals generally have few predators and copy quickly. They destroy native animal’s habitats, spread disease and compete for food and shelter. by a combination of trapping, shooting, spraying and protective bird netting, the battle against introduced pests is on going.
First introduced by European settlers they were brought to Australia for two reasons, to provide early settlers with meat, and later they were introduced for hunting. In 1859 a man named Thomas Austin released 24 wild rabbits on his character near Geelong and by 1886 this population had exploded to cover Victoria and New South Wales. Fifteen years later rabbits had reached the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Rabbits destroy vegetation and crops, which can rule to soil erosion. They have also been responsible for the eradication of the bilby and the bandicoot by destroying their habitats. They also destroy pasture, and seven rabbits will eat the equivalent amount of pasture of one sheep. During a drought they will strip paddocks bare leaving no food for livestock.
Also introduced for sport, foxes now are hunted out of necessity, and have been so for many years now. They cause environmental damage, prey on native animals and kill livestock such as lambs and sheep. Lamb losses can be as high as 10 to 30%, and they can also prey on calves, deer, ostrich and poultry. The impact on livestock is meaningful and causes serious economic damage. A third of foxes diet comes from the livestock they kill. They are found in most areas of the mainland south of the tropics and there have already been reported sightings in Tasmania. As a consequence methods for controlling foxes have been in place for some time. Baiting and shooting are the major methods of the destruction of foxes.
The cane toad is a large toad and is native to Central and South America. It is a prolific breeder and can lay single clump spawns with thousands of eggs. It also survives well due to its diet of both dead and living matter and will eat almost anything. It has poisonous glands and they are highly toxic to animals if eaten. They are a large toad and are tough and adaptable. They also have few predators in Australia. They were introduced into Australia in 1935 to control scarab beetles that were pests of sugar cane, and they are now found by the eastern and northern half of Queensland, in parts of the Northern Territory and they are steadily heading south by New South Wales. There have already been reported sightings in Western Australia. Initially 3000 toads were released into the sugar can plantations of north Queensland and now the numbers are estimated at around 200 million. They are considered a pest because they poison pets and injure humans, in addition as many native animals, they eat a large number of honey bees and prey on native fauna. They also compete for food and carry diseases that be can transmitted to native frogs and fish.