MORE than 400 feral goats and six deer were removed from the Adelaide Hills during a recent two-day aerial operation.
The goat control operation was coordinated by The Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board in Montacute and covered 1400 hectares of Forestry SA, SA Water, and Department of Environment and Water land, as well as four private properties.
The land has been a major focus for feral goat control following the Cudlee Creek bushfire, due to the goats' impact on regenerating native vegetation and fragile soils.
Ten hours of helicopter flight time resulted in the removal of 323 feral goats and six deer, while a further 110 goats were removed by trapping and ground shooting.
In 2021, the aerial operation in Montacute covered 800ha and resulted in the removal of 454 feral goats.
The Landscape Board is leading a long-term program to reduce the environmental and agricultural impacts caused by feral goats and deer across the region.
Regional coordinator for Grazing Pressure Management Tom Kloeden said the program was using a coordinated approach in priority areas to deliver reductions in the populations of both feral goats and deer.
"Grazing pressure, particularly from feral goats and deer, has substantial impacts on primary production, water catchments, native vegetation and threatened flora and fauna and this program is using a strategic and coordinated approach to managing the issue," he said.
"We are using a combination of staff-led operations, specialist contractors and volunteers to deliver the program, which is very much targeted at the long-term eradication of feral goats from the Hills and Fleurieu region."
Control operations are undertaken at various priority sites across the Hills and Fleurieu as sub-populations are identified.
"Consistency is the key to ensure that local eradication of goats can be achieved," Mr Kloeden said.
"Over the last few years more than 1900 feral goats have been removed from an initial surveyed population of more than 2000.
"The positive rebound of native vegetation has been confirmed though monitoring and farmers are reporting fewer feral goats on their properties."
Mr Kloeden said there was still much work to do, with goats increasing in population by up to 65-70 per cent each year due to their fast reproduction rates.
"While we are managing to remove a substantial number of goats each year, their populations regenerate very quickly, particularly given the lack of natural predators in our region," he said.
"A sustained, integrated effort will be required to reach our local eradication target."
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