Feral goats’ numbers are ballooning into the millions! They are now in the top 5 of the worst invasive species in Australia!

Feral goats are found in every state and territory. The Government is now at war with feral goats to give Australia’s native species the best chance of survival. 

Adding to the methods already in place, the use of drones and thermal cameras for aerial culling are the new technologies seen as game changers. 

1. Why are Feral goats considered invasive?

Feral goats compete with native species for food, water, and shelter.

They have a major effect on native vegetation by the overgrazing of native herbs, grasses, shrubs, and trees. This grazing and soil damage as well as trampling over critical habitats can cause erosion and prevent regeneration of plants and trees.

It is said from conservation authorities that feral goats were among the worst invasive species in Australia by threatening plant and animal species and ecological communities. For example, they threaten the rock wallaby population by competing for rock shelters and food leaving the rock wallaby exposed to greater risk of predation by wedge-tailed eagles and foxes.

In their herds they have two-fold damage by eating native plants and by trampling large areas of vegetation and compactable soils. Goats will eat the foliage of most trees and plants and quickly destroy all vegetation within their reach, eating saplings, seedlings, and litter-fall off the forest floor.

2. How does the feral goat affect the ecosystem?

Feral goats are selective feeders and eat native plants that native species avoid. This reduces the diversity of plant species by overgrazing, this prevents the regeneration of some shrubs and trees and by allowing those plants resistant to grazing to replace the original forest.

The feral goat has established populations in many different habitats in Australia. They foul waterholes with dung and can introduce weeds carried in their dung to invade the area.

They are a particular problem during droughts as feral goats can compete with domestic livestock and native animals for food, water, and shelter. They threaten the survival of 128 threatened plant and animal species including eleven species of wattle and the brush-tailed rock wallaby.  

3. How do feral goats effect the Australian economic? 

Feral goats are a destructive agricultural pest and cause major environmental and financial damage. They have been estimated to cause losses to livestock farming of $25 million per year, not including their impact on the environment or pasture degradation.

Yet they do have commercial value, providing an income for farmers who muster them for sale. Now the millions feral goats in Australia which are considered an agricultural and environmental pest, can also be valued for their meat. They are in some areas thought to be a god-send for struggling farmers, particularly in NSW.

There is an ongoing conflict between the huge environmental impact of feral goats and the commercial drive that keeps their numbers high. 

4. Can you eat feral goats in Australia?

Goat meat, also known as capretto or chevon, is a versatile and flavorsome meat offering a unique texture and taste. It has been gaining popularity in the Australian culinary scene that appeals to versatile and flavorsome meat that appeals to food enthusiasts and chefs alike.

The strong gamey taste does not appeal to everyone and if it is not cooked well it can be tough and unpleasant to eat.

It is recommended that people with a high fever, phlegm, toothache, ulcers, acne, or hemorrhoids should not eat goat meat since it can worsen these issues. High amounts of goat meat are not recommended for children, because their kidneys and livers cannot handle too much protein.

5. What areas are feral goats found in Australia?

Feral goats are found across Australia. It’s been estimated that there are over 5.8 million feral goats in NSW alone. With even more feral goats in greater numbers in the semi-arid and pastoral areas of Western Australia. As well as southern Queensland, and central-eastern South Australia.

Goat sightings can be reported in a free resource available as a website called FeralGoatScan. Information about feral goats, alert the local community and biosecurity authorities to movements and numbers of feral goats. It also keeps a record of damage and control activities.


6. Where did the feral goats come from?

Goats are not native to Australia. They were originally brought to Australia by the First Fleet in 1788. They were introduced as domestic livestock to provide meat and milk for early settlers, railway construction workers and miners. They were small and hardy and ate a range of plants making a convenient livestock for early European settlers.

Many more have been imported since then. The escaped and released goats adapted into the Australian rangeland goat which then but some escaped and adapted into the Australian rangeland goat. established feral populations.

The original wild goat species, Capra aegagrus, inhabited forests, shrubland and rocky areas from the dry hills of the Mediterranean basin including Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan

Nowadays many different breeds of goat exist throughout the world, but Australian feral goat population consists of a mix of Cashmere, Angora, British Alpine, Anglo-Nubian, Saanen and Toggenburg breeds.  The Cashmere and Angora goats were also introduced to Australia in the mid-1800s for the fiber industry.

7. What is being done to control feral goats in Australia?

The most common techniques to control feral goats are trapping at water, mustering, aerial shooting, ground shooting and exclusion fencing. Although there are

advantages and disadvantages of each control method and each should be carefully considered before use and the relevant codes of practice followed.

Feral goats in semi-arid areas must drink water during dry times so traps at watering points can be effective. The traps are surrounded with goat-proof fences surrounding a watering point and include a one-way gate. These gates include one-way swinging gates or jump-down ramps. Alternatively in drought times when valuable water is needed for stock then restricting the amounts feral goats are allowed should be practiced.

Despite of high costs, shooting from helicopters can be an effective means of removal of feral goats, especially in rugged terrain. The Judas goat technique makes use of radio-tracking equipment to locate herds of feral goats. A captured, or ‘Judas’, goat will be fitted with a collar, to which a radio transmitter is attached. The goat will then join up or return to its herd. This group can be located with the radio-tracking equipment and shot by hunters, either from helicopters or on foot.

8. Why are drones and thermal imaging game changers in the control of feral pests?

Camouflage and nighttime darkness can make spotting feral goats almost impossible with the naked eye. Due to the advancements in technology thermal imagery can search the countryside for feral goats during the day and during the night. Sophisticated drones use thermal sensing that can even penetrate a forest’s thick canopy and take high-resolution footage.

The thermal imaging built into drones, is giving a new frontier of aerial surveillance and feral goat control. The information helps hunters to locate herds of feral goats for an aerial culling.

Drones can cover big distances from the air and work over any terrain. They not only detect feral goats but also give an idea of their numbers and their habits. 

9. Which animals eat feral goats?

Wild dogs and dingoes are the most notable predators of feral goats in Australia. Feral pigs, foxes and large eagles may also prey upon feral goats, especially goat kids. 

Dingoes eradicate feral goats effectively. In areas like central Australia and the Northern Territory, where there is a large population of dingoes, they have very few feral goats.

10. What diseases do feral goats carry?

Feral goats can carry external and internal parasites, some of which can affect cattle and sheep. Feral goats can carry and spread foot rot. This can infect or reinfect sheep through their contact.

Feral goats can be a biosecurity risk as they are vulnerable to many exotic livestock diseases that are not present in Australia. They can act as potential vectors for foot-and-mouth disease and rabies. They can also transmit diseases to domestic animals as well as wild dogs and dingoes.

Feral goats are also susceptible to native diseases currently found in Australia including tetanus, leptospirosis, blackleg, and various parasitic worms of the gastrointestinal tract.