Frequently asked Questions about the CWBA

A Recognised Biosecurity Group (RBG) in Western Australia is a community-based organisation formally recognised by the Western Australian government under the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act 2007 to coordinate and implement biosecurity measures within a specified area. These groups play a crucial role in managing declared pests, including invasive plants and animals, by working closely with landholders, local communities, and government agencies.

CWBA is a recognised biosecurity group (RBG) tasked with assisting landholders in controlling declared pests within its management area, which includes Koorda, Perenjori, Dalwallinu, and Morawa, covering a total area of 21,901 square kilometres.

CWBA focuses on controlling Wild Dogs, Red Foxes, European rabbits, and Feral Pigs, along with other declared pests considered a priority for the group, through a coordinated and cooperative approach involving landholders and the wider community.

CWBA’s pest control programs are funded through a declared pest rate raised in 2018, supplemented by additional funding sought from government and industry grant opportunities to enhance the effectiveness of pest control efforts.

CWBA covers the Shires of Dalwallinu, Koorda, Morawa, and Perenjori, totalling 2,167,744 hectares, with a focus on agriculture, including grain and sheep production, while promoting business growth and environmental balance.

CWBA aims to increase stakeholder participation by promoting sound biosecurity practices, providing a forum for information exchange, and implementing best practice declared pest management on both private and public lands within its management area.

CWBA aims to develop proactive strategies to reduce the effects of declared pests, increase stakeholder participation, implement best practice management, and observe progress concerning the reduction of impacts while delivering practical community consultation to raise stakeholder awareness.

CWBA originated from the Central Wheatbelt Declared Species Group (CWDSG) formed in 2012 in response to escalating dog attacks on livestock. Since then, CWBA has worked diligently to manage declared pests through coordinated efforts, including bait rack days and funding free rabbit bait mixing days.

CWBA’s Declared Pest Rate, applied to the unimproved value of freehold land, is utilised for managing priority declared pests within its operational area. The rate is matched dollar for dollar by the Government and can only be spent within the designated area.

CWBA is proposing a modest increase in the Declared Pest Rate to ensure sufficient funds for effective pest management, maintenance of essential services related to pest control, education, and prevention, amidst increasing costs and economic challenges.

Stakeholders can provide feedback on the proposed increase by completing an online form or contacting the CWBA Executive Officer or Board member. CWBA values stakeholder input in shaping its efforts to protect the community from the threat of declared pests.

Frequently asked questions about Wild Dogs

In Western Australia, wild dogs, including dingoes, feral dogs, and their hybrids, are classified as declared pests under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007. This classification mandates control efforts to mitigate their impact on livestock and native wildlife. The Western Australian Wild Dog Action Plan outlines strategies for managing these pests, including baiting, trapping, shooting, and the maintenance of exclusion fencing like the State Barrier Fence. Landholders are responsible for managing wild dogs on their properties, with support from Recognised Biosecurity Groups and government funding​

Wild Dog control aims to reduce livestock losses and preserve biodiversity by managing the population of wild dogs. While some debate exists regarding their impact on native species, evidence suggests they play a role in predation. Recent findings indicate they prey on various animals, highlighting the importance of managing their numbers.

Wild dog populations cannot self-regulate due to human interventions like resource provisioning, altering habitats to suit livestock, and expanding water points. Over centuries, human activities have facilitated their spread, increasing their population. Although efforts have constrained their range within certain areas, human influence remains a key factor in their proliferation.

Human activity significantly influences wild dog behaviour by providing water points and livestock resources. During droughts, dogs rely more on human-provided resources, potentially increasing human-wildlife conflicts. Moreover, feeding wild dogs or leaving food waste can habituate them to human presence, leading to potentially negative outcomes.

Without RBG intervention, wild dog populations could escalate, resulting in heightened predation on livestock, increased human-wildlife conflicts, and potential impacts on biodiversity. Although the exact consequences are uncertain, proactive control measures have historically mitigated these risks, underscoring the importance of ongoing management efforts.

Research into non-lethal control methods like auditory deterrents and guardian dogs shows promise, but their effectiveness is limited when used alone. Scale presents a challenge in WA, where large properties and the dogs’ mobility make it difficult to contain them using non-lethal methods alone. Consequently, lethal control remains the most effective approach to managing wild dog populations.

RBGs collectively aim to dispel myths, demonstrate the effectiveness of landscape-scale control, and advocate for reduced invasive species on the ground. Through collaboration, they amplify their voices, educate communities, and showcase the positive impact of tenure control in addressing biosecurity challenges.

Wild dogs encompass dingoes, feral dogs, and their hybrids. Dingoes, originating from Asia, arrived in Australia around 4,500 to 8,000 years ago. European settlers introduced domestic dogs in 1788. Despite their differences, all dogs in Australia are classified as one species, Canis familiaris.

Wild dogs are active in Autumn and Spring, breeding once annually and caring for pups in Winter. They are opportunistic predators, consuming a variety of prey depending on availability, including smaller animals like bandicoots and reptiles, as well as larger prey like kangaroos and cattle.

Dingo purity, is not a conservation concern in Western Australia. Despite lethal control efforts, pure dingoes exist in various regions, contributing to genetically distinct populations. The impact of lethal control on dingo genetics remains debated.

Wild dogs pose a threat to endangered or vulnerable native species in Western Australia, with 14 such species at risk. Their predation has been linked to declines in populations of animals like the black-flanked rock wallaby and the western quoll.

Wild dogs cost an average of $89.3 million annually in lost agricultural productivity. They prey on livestock, causing direct losses and inducing stress, which affects animal welfare and productivity. Sheep and goats are particularly vulnerable to predation.

1080 poison, used in baiting programs, targets invasive species like wild dogs. It is biodegradable and found naturally in some Australian plants, making it specific to non-native species. The regulated use of 1080 requires licenses and specific training.

Traditional methods like trapping, shooting, and baiting have long been employed, with careful consideration for animal welfare. Non-lethal tools such as fladry and auditory deterrents offer alternatives but may have limited effectiveness on a large scale.

The State Barrier Fence, initially built in 1902, spans approximately 1209 km and serves to protect agricultural areas from animal pests like wild dogs and emus. While effective, misconceptions exist, including its impermeability and maintenance requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions about Feral Pigs

In Western Australia, feral pigs are classified as a declared pest under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007. They are listed in the Western Australian Organism List (WAOL) due to their significant impact on the environment and agriculture. This classification means that measures must be taken to control and manage their populations to prevent further ecological damage and economic losses. Control methods include trapping, shooting, and baiting, with efforts focused on reducing their numbers and mitigating their impact on native ecosystems and agricultural lands.

A feral pig is defined as a pig that is not kept in captivity. In Australia, feral pigs are of the species Sus scrofa and it is not known when pigs were first introduced into Australia. Pigs become feral after escaping, following deliberate release to start new colonies or being unrestrained. The first official record of pigs was in Sydney after the arrival of the First Fleet.

As of 2024, the feral pig population in Australia is estimated to be around 24 million. These pigs inhabit nearly 50% of the country, posing significant threats to agriculture, the environment, and biodiversity. The population has grown substantially, driven by factors such as abundant food sources and favorable breeding conditions.

Yes, feral pigs can be found in all states and territories of Australia. They are widely distributed in Queensland, New South Wales, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory, with more dispersed populations in Victoria, Western Australia, Flinders Island and Kangaroo Island. The location and distribution of feral pigs in the landscape are closely related to water courses and floodplains, available feed and vegetative cover.

Feral pigs are very adaptive and occupy a wide variety of habitats in Australia. These include rainforests, monsoon forests, paperbark swamps, open floodplains, marsh areas, semi-arid floodplains, dry woodlands, sub-alpine grasslands and forests. They prefer living near water sources (in hot weather they need water twice daily). As feral pigs do not have sweat glands, they prefer to inhabit moist, wellsheltered areas to hide from the sun and from predators.

On average, adult males can reach 80-100kg liveweight, with females averaging 50-60kg.

Very few pigs live more than five years of age, with adult mortality varying from 15 –50% between age cohorts. The mortality of young piglets is generally high, particularly from starvation and loss of contact with their mothers. When food supply and seasonal conditions are favourable, mortality can range from 10 –15%, with mortality being up to 100% when conditions are poor (e.g. drought).

Under favourable conditions, breeding occurs throughout the year. Seasonal breeding can occur when food availability and water is variable. Under favourable conditions, sows will produce two weaned litters every 12-15 months and commence breeding when they reach 25 kg liveweight. Litter sizes can range from 4-10 piglets, with fertility increasing with increasing age. Annually, feral pig populations can increase by up to 86% in ideal conditions.

Feral pigs can be aggressive. Females can be particularly protective of their young when approached by humans and/or dogs. Feral pigs have large tusks which can cause significant wounds to humans or other animals, if encountered. The greatest danger that feral pigs pose to humans and other livestock are the diseases they carry.

Feral pigs can carry many exotic, endemic and zoonotic diseases as well as parasites that are harmful to animals, humans, and plants. Exotic diseases are those diseases that are not present in Australia and endemic diseases are those that are characteristic of a population, region or environment. A zoonotic disease is defined as a disease that can be transmitted to humans from animals. Some of the key exotic diseases of concern include foot and mouth disease, African swine fever, classical swine fever and Aujesky’s disease. Leptospirosis, brucellosis, melioidosis, erysipelas, sparganosis, Japanese encephalitis, and Q fever are some of the endemic diseases of concern to livestock industries as well as to public health. Feral pigs are implicated in the transmission of Panama disease tropical race 4, a soil-borne fungus that decimates banana plantations and for which there is no treatment. Feral pigs can also transmit Phytophthora cinnamomi, which causes dieback in eucalypt forests, native plants and horticultural tree crops. Feral pigs also spread weeds, degrade wetlands and waterholes, cause erosion, and impact on water quality and watering points.

Pigs eat an omnivorous diet – which means they eat a varied diet comprised of vegetation, fruit, grain and animal material. Their diet can vary according to seasonal availabilities. Feral pigs have a preference for succulent green vegetation. The consumption of animal matter varies between seasons and regions, but rarely exceeds 20% of their diet. Feral pigs prey on native species, including earthworms, turtles and their eggs, insects, amphibians, reptiles, ground birds and small mammals.

Feral pigs impact on environmental, agricultural, cultural and social assets across Australia. The Australian agricultural sector bears direct and significant economic costs, due to the predation of newborn livestock, reduced cropping and horticultural yields, degradation of pasture, waterways and soils, transmission of livestock, plant and human diseases, spread of invasive weeds, and damage to infrastructure. Feral pigs threaten biodiversity due to predation, competition for resources, habitat degradation and destruction (including wetlands, fauna habitats, erosion, damage to creek beds, water quality, rooting and wallowing) leading to many native flora and fauna species being listed as threatened from their activity. Feral pigs also cause damage to culturally important sites and contaminate local community water sources.

Frequently Asked Questions about Foxes

In Western Australia, foxes are officially classified as declared pests under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007. This designation mandates landowners to take active measures to control and manage fox populations on their properties. The classification recognises the significant threat foxes pose to agriculture and native wildlife due to their predation on livestock and native species, as well as their role in spreading diseases.

The European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was introduced to Australia in the 19th century for recreational hunting. Since then, it has become a widespread invasive species.

European foxes are major predators of native species, leading to declines and extinctions of various small to medium-sized mammals, birds, and reptiles. They compete with native predators and disrupt ecosystems​.

Foxes prey on livestock, particularly lambs, poultry, and small mammals, causing significant economic losses for farmers. They also spread diseases and parasites that can affect livestock and pets.

Control methods include baiting with poisoned baits, shooting, trapping, and fencing. Integrated pest management strategies are often employed to effectively reduce fox numbers​.

Baiting programs can affect non-target species if they consume the baits intended for foxes. Measures such as targeted bait placement and the use of specific toxins (e.g., 1080) that are less harmful to native species are used to mitigate these impacts.

Effectiveness varies by region and method, but well-coordinated programs that use a combination of control methods have been successful in reducing fox populations, minimising impact on agricultural enterprises and allowing some native species to recover.

Community involvement is crucial for the success of fox control programs. Public education, participation in baiting and trapping programs, and reporting sightings help enhance the effectiveness of these initiatives​.

Ongoing research focuses on developing more effective baits, understanding fox behavior and ecology, and improving methods for monitoring fox populations. Genetic studies and the use of technology like GPS tracking are also being explored.

The long-term goals include reducing the fox population to manageable levels, protecting vulnerable native species, minimizing agricultural losses, and restoring ecological balance. Continuous adaptation and improvement of control strategies are essential to achieving these goals​.

Frequently Asked Questions about Rabbits

In Western Australia, European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are officially classified as a declared pest under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007. This classification is due to their significant impact on agriculture and the environment. 

European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were introduced to Australia in the 19th century for hunting. They spread rapidly across the continent, including Western Australia, causing significant ecological and agricultural damage.

Rabbits cause extensive damage to crops, pasture lands, and infrastructure. They compete with livestock for food, degrade land through overgrazing, and undermine soil stability with their burrowing.

Rabbits compete with native species for food and habitat, contributing to the decline of native plants and animals. Their grazing habits can lead to soil erosion and loss of biodiversity.

Control methods include poisoning (using Pindone and 1080), biological control (releasing diseases like Myxomatosis and Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus), habitat destruction (warren ripping), and fencing​.

Biological controls have been effective in significantly reducing rabbit populations, though over time, some resistance has developed. Ongoing research aims to improve these methods and address resistance issues.

Challenges include the development of resistance to biological controls, the difficulty of accessing remote areas, the need for coordinated efforts across large regions, and the impact on non-target species.

Landowners and the community play a critical role by participating in coordinated control efforts, such as baiting, warren destruction, and monitoring rabbit populations. Community involvement enhances the effectiveness and sustainability of control programs.

Non-lethal methods include habitat modification to make areas less suitable for rabbits, exclusion fencing to protect sensitive areas, and the use of repellents. However, these methods are often used in conjunction with lethal controls for greater effectiveness.

The long-term goals are to reduce rabbit populations to sustainable levels, restore degraded ecosystems, protect agricultural productivity, and prevent further spread of rabbits into unaffected areas. Achieving these goals requires ongoing research, adaptive management strategies, and community engagement​.