Feral goats are destroyingnative flora, stripping trees of bark and transforming the landscape of the beautiful Flinders Ranges. Local farmer and station owner Warren Luckraft reports to the Adelaide Advertiser’s Erin Jones.
Bendleby Ranges station owner Warren Luckraft is one of many farmers in the region trying to protect their properties from the pests ‚Äî estimated to be as many as 350,000 in the Flinders and Mid North.
Mr Luckraft has joined a push by the state’s pastoralists to get the SA Government to urgently change regulations on feral goat farming, to stop further destruction.
“Things are evolving, so the regulations are going to have to catch up, otherwise people will tend to do what they think is best,” Mr Luckraft said.
The price of goat meat has gone through the roof, recently reaching $7.30 a kg.
Current regulations dictatcte the way that the goats must be held making it hard for farmers to control and make use of the feral pest.Currently, goats were only allowed to be kept in a smaller holding yard for six weeks before being transported, regardless of the number.
Mr Luckraft believed goats should be allowed to be trapped in large paddocks and held until there were enough animals to be transported for slaughter.
“It’s a better proposition all round for us to be able to trap goats,” Mr Luckraft said. “We have to do a lot of flying and motorbike mustering and it’s not ideal.
“Also holding them in a pen is not ideal. They don’t feed properly and they take a long time to settle and adapt to hay.
“If we could keep them in a paddock, we would look after them like we would lambs going to market, because they’re just as valuable.”
A Primary Industries Department spokeswoman said the feral goat policy was being reviewed, after a push by the SA Arid Lands NRM Board and Livestock SA.
She said the Government was investigating the use of “district goat depots” to hold small numbers of mustered goats from surrounding properties, rather than allowing farmers to trap the animals in larger paddocks.
“It is believed such depots, regarded by pastoralists as a temporary industry development, would also provide transport efficiencies, provide local job opportunities and lead to drastically reducing goat numbers,” she said. The draft goat policy was expected to be issued for public consultation by August.