Landcare volunteers have joined pest control experts at Moruya's Riverside Park, learning how to identify, monitor and control introduced species like rabbits, foxes and Indian mynas.
The Landcarers had plenty of opportunity to get hands-on experience with some of the tools of the trade; traps specifically tailored for each pest animal, a warren fumigation machine, equipment for preparing and laying baits, and motion-sensing cameras for monitoring fauna.
The cameras are essential in the fight against feral species - it's necessary to know what lives in the area so control methods can be tailored to the pests that live there. For example, foxes regularly walk a "beat" and, once known, their movements can be timed almost to the minute, making control efforts relatively straightforward. The landcarers were encouraged to take one home and see what lives on their patch.
There was much to learn about each pest animal. Some of the best control techniques have taken years to perfect, often implemented on a shoe-string budget. It's so important to get a bang for your buck - there was much advice on effective, practical and humane control.
Landcare volunteers have been critical to the success of many local control programs; assisting with population counts, gathering information, conducting spotlighting and other monitoring activities, and setting, checking and maintaining traps.
All these extra hands free up Eurobodalla Council's dedicated pest control team and the limited operational budget available.
Feral animal control can be time consuming. Rabbit baiting requires a minimum of three days of free feeding unbaited fodder before poisoned baits can be laid.
The poisoned food must be laid after dusk and collected again before dawn, to ensure non-target animals don't eat the bait - that's a lot of late nights and early starts. Cameras are also used to check native animals are not eating poisoned food.
All this work is done with limited resources and the help of Landcarers is vital. Recently, pest control resources have been boosted with funds from the NSW Environmental Trust Feral Fighters Project.
To find out where pest animal control is being conducted, look for high-visibility signage or visit https://www.esc.nsw.gov.au/living-in/natural-environment/introduced-plants-and-animals/rabbit-control.