Time-bomb dingoes to kill feral goats on Great Barrier Reef island

24 Jul 2016 / 20:14 H.

SYDNEY: Dingoes, Australia's native wild dogs, are being released on an island in the Great Barrier Reef to hunt and kill 300 feral goats in a bid to save the endangered ecosystem, a media report said Saturday.
The male dingoes have tracking devices fitted, are desexed and have a capsule implanted in them that will release poison and kill them in two years once they have done their job, the broadcaster ABC reported.
The rugged uninhabited 4-square-kilometre Pelorus Island, 15km off the coast near Cairns, has rare rainforest plants that are being eaten away by the goats.
The mayor of Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Ramon Jayo, said the council was responsible for the island and had to take action or the island would be destroyed by the goats.
"As a council we have an obligation as the trustees of this land, the custodians of this land, to control or eradicate pests," Jayo told the ABC.
Rangers had trapped and shot goats, but the difficult terrain meant they could not eradicate them and they breed quickly.
"The goats have literally taken out all the understory species of vegetation and that has allowed all the soils to be exposed and to be washed away and trampled down the mountain by goats," Jayo said.
Goats were released on the island in the 1800s as food for lighthouse keepers. Dingoes are natural predators and can wipe out goats quickly.
Two dingoes were caught on the mainland and have been released on the island. Two more will be caught and released soon.
University of Southern Queensland wildlife ecologist Dr Ben Allen said dingoes are extremely effective at eradicating feral pests.
In 1993, 16 dingoes were released on a 70-square-kilometre military training island and wiped out 3,000 feral goats in two years.
But the dingoes bred and it took another 15 years to remove the dingoes from the military island.
"The dingoes became a great expense and a big problem ... for shore birds and other things on the island. We don't want that to happen here," Allen told the ABC.
"So the plan is [the] dingoes wipe out goats [then] we come back and humanely shoot those dingoes because they'll have tracking collars so we can find where they go."
Allen said there is a backup if they cannot find the dingoes – capsules of poison implanted in the dogs timed for release in two years.
"If for whatever reason we can't shoot those dingoes, those little time-bombs will go off. The last thing we want to do is create another problem for this island." — dpa


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