FERALS: Pests are costing the agriculture industry dearly.
FERALS: Pests are costing the agriculture industry dearly. Contributed

Pests costing industry almost $800M a year

THE cost of rabbits, wild dogs, foxes, feral pigs and other vertebrate pests to the Australian agricultural industry is now as high as $797million per year - with wild dog costs nearly double since the last analysis.

The report by the NSW Natural Resource Commission updates the economic impact of pest animals undertaken by Wendy Gong and colleagues in 2009.

The report analyses the economic impact of pest animals relating to production losses from livestock attacks and competition, along with the management costs associated with their control.

Centre for Invasive Species Solutions chief executive officer, Andreas Glanznig, said the economic cost of pest animals to agriculture was on the rise and burning a big hole in farmers' pockets.

"The costs associated with impacts from rabbits, wild dogs, foxes and feral pigs have all significantly risen since the last estimates were undertaken,” he said.

"Our agricultural products, such as Australian beef and wool are world class and are making top dollar on the market.

"These increased commodity prices have contributed to the nearly doubling of the national economic impact of wild dogs, which is on average $89million per year. The last analysis had wild dog costs at $48million per year.

"Underlying this cost is the huge number of lamb, sheep, calf, cattle and goat deaths and maulings that have impacted the producers' bottom-lines and livelihood.”

The report also found the cost of pest animals to the beef industry alone was up to $220million a year, and losses to the wool industry nearly $100million a year.

Mr Glanznig reiterated how important it was for government, industry and community groups to act on this significant national problem.

"Just over the past few years, governments and industry have invested many millions for research and development of new tools and technologies, as well as for strategic landscape management such as cluster fencing, to tackle pest animal problems.

"These new figures emphasise the need for strong, co-ordinated and collaborative action,” Mr Glanznig said.

The Cost of Pest Animals in NSW and Australia, 2013-14 report, has been published on the PestSmart website - www.pestsmart.org.au /cost-pest-animals-nsw- australia-201314.