Towards A Feral Free Future
Trailer: Series 1

Trailer: Series 1

June 28, 2021

Get a quick glimpse into what this fantastic series has in stall, who is being featured and how we are all working towards a feral free future.

1. Scraping websites and online marketplaces to stop our next environmental catastrophe

1. Scraping websites and online marketplaces to stop our next environmental catastrophe

June 29, 2021

In this episode you will meet Adam Toomes, Katie Hill and Jacob Maher, three PhD candidates from the University of Adelaide who, along with a team of researchers, are developing automated monitoring systems with the aim of identifying the next pest threats which could cross our Australian borders.

With a growing wildlife trade (both legal and illegal) and more Australians then ever wanting to purchase and keep exotic pets and plants it is timely that we put automated digital systems in place which can ‘scrape’ e-commerce sites but also the areas of the deep, dark web, which are less likely to be seen.

Find out more about how researchers are designing ‘web scraping technology’ and CSI-like detection techniques to stop our next environmental catastrophe from entering Australia.

2. Big brother is watching - surveillance of invasive species using digital technology

2. Big brother is watching - surveillance of invasive species using digital technology

June 30, 2021

Smart phones, wireless cameras and drones are becoming part of everyday use for many, and in this episode you’ll hear from Dr Paul Meek, a Vertebrate Pest Research Scientist with NSW DPI who is using these devices to trial artificial intelligence and recognition algorithms which can identify pest animal species and alert nearby neighbours of the threat.

Imagine being alerted by text message if a wild dog or fox was walking by your fence line, and you could manage the threat, before something untoward happened. This could one day be a reality, if Dr Meeks vision becomes a reality.

You’ll then hear from Andrew Mitchell, a weeds specialist with the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions who is building an automated weed identification system. With many people in the community unsure of the weeds in their region and how to manage them, this product has the aim of supporting community weeds management programs across the country, by helping them ID plants while out in the field and then better understand how to manage the weed by linking them with the most relevant information.

Big brother may be watching, and it is bad news for invasive species!

3. Making the invisible visible through environmental DNA samples

3. Making the invisible visible through environmental DNA samples

June 30, 2021

Wondered what that was lurking in the bushes or in the waterway, but it got away before you could see it? This is exactly what Dr Alejandro Trujillo-González a Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the Institute for Applied Ecology at the University of Canberra is finding out.

One of Australia’s leading environmental DNA detectives, Dr Trujillo-González takes samples from the environment (water, soil, even air) and uses a portable machine, the size of a fishing tackle box, to analyse these samples for the presence of DNA.

In the space of 60 minutes, Alejandro can know whether there are any species in the environment we should be concerned about or need to be managed, in what would usually take up to 7 days if done back in the laboratory.

Real time DNA detection could revolutionise the way we manage surveillance both at the border and within our environment.

4. Australia’s worst environmental and agricultural pest – the rabbit!

4. Australia’s worst environmental and agricultural pest – the rabbit!

June 30, 2021

Before the introduction of Australia’s first rabbit biocontrol agent (called myxomatosis) was released in the 1950s, it was believed there were upwards of 10 billion rabbits wreaking havoc across Australia.

Rabbits are Australia’s worst environmental vandal and pest to agricultural and rabbit biocontrol agents (or viruses) have been a game changer for rabbit management within Australia.

In this episode we’ll hear from CSIRO virologist Dr Tanja Strive who has been studying rabbit viruses for more than a decade and along with her lab team, are analysing samples taken from rabbits across Australia, to understand how these viruses are moving across the landscape and where they are and aren’t working, to better inform management practices.

We’ll then chat with NSW DPI research scientist, Dr Pat Taggart who has the job of being out in the various Australian landscapes collecting rabbit samples and understanding best practice rabbit management in different areas to ensure we are able to promote the most effective integrated approaches to rabbit management in Australia.

Rabbits may be Australia’s #1 invasive species vandal, but with science at the helm, we are certainly starting to take control.

5. Feral cats – Australia’s biggest wildlife killer

5. Feral cats – Australia’s biggest wildlife killer

June 30, 2021

Each year, billions of Australian wildlife are taken by feral cats and preyed upon, by the more than 10 million feral cats roaming Australia’s environment. They are the major extinction driver of our native threatened wildlife species.

In this episode we’ll hear from Dr Sally Box, Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner on how we are fighting back against feral cats nationally, and reducing their impact one cat a time.

We’ll also hear from Dr Brad Page, a pest animal specialist with the South Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regions on whether poison meat products (known as toxic baits) may be a good option in managing feral cats now and into the future. While Dr Mark Tizard, a Genome Engineering specialist within the CSIRO will discuss whether it could be possible to modify the cats DNA so they don’t produce either male or female offspring, as a non-lethal control option, to slowly bringing down their population size.

They may be much beloved pets when in the safety of our homes, but within the landscape they are wildlife killers, that need strategic management action.

6. Oh deer! We have a problem here

6. Oh deer! We have a problem here

June 30, 2021

There are six different species of deer roaming across Australia and their populations are growing both in regional and urban areas. They are an emerging problem for some, but for many the problem is already here.

In this episode we’ll hear from Australia’s newly appointed National Deer Management Coordinator, Dr Annelise Wiebkin, who has the job of priming communities to take action against feral deer.

We’ll also hear from Ted Rowley a Jindabyne farmer who is heavily impacted by feral deer but fighting back slowly and surely.

Finally, we’ll bring in Dr Tony Pople, a scientist with Biosecurity Queensland who is leading Australia’s national deer research collaboration which involves input from all levels of government from federal through to regional councils and environmental NGOs to ensure we are together developing solutions to managing feral deer which can be implemented on farm and within the environment.

7. Livestock producers taking the upper hand with strategic action on wild dogs

7. Livestock producers taking the upper hand with strategic action on wild dogs

June 30, 2021

They are a controversial species to manage, where in some areas they are protected and conserved for ecological reasons and in other areas they are managed and culled to avoid livestock predation.

Unfortunately, though, wild dogs are a major issue for livestock producers across Australia, and for many, not just cause economic impacts but social and wellbeing harm as well, with many not being able to rest easy knowing their animals have a threat lurking.

In this episode we’ll talk with Greg Mifsud, the National Wild Dog Management Coordinator, who has the important role of bringing communities together across Australia to manage wild dog impacts, reduce livestock losses and protect environmental assets.

We’ll also hear from two feral predator research experts working at different ends of Australia, Dr Peter Fleming from NSW DPI who is leading a number of projects across the east coast looking at the most effective approaches to managing wild dog impacts both in the environment and across agriculture, and Dr Tracey Kreplins from the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development who is leading a number of projects across the west coast.

Baiting, shooting, trapping, fences and more – they are all used to manage wild dogs, but are we doing it effectively and with impact?

8. Not just a rural problem – why we need tailored management plans for peri-urban areas?

8. Not just a rural problem – why we need tailored management plans for peri-urban areas?

June 30, 2021

Many people think invasive species, and in particular feral animals, are only a problem in rural areas, but in this episode we’ll chat with two pest animal researchers from Biosecurity Queensland, Dr Matt Gentle and Dr Lana Harriott, who are looking at ways of effectively managing feral animals in urban landscapes, where approaches such as broadscale baiting, shooting and largescale fencing programs just simply can not be rolled out.

We may hear of more impacts from feral predators and other species in rural areas, but you may be surprised to know there are many ferals lurking likely in your own urban backyard or fence line, and stakeholders are calling for ways to manage them, that are safe, effective and timely.

9. Australia’s largest community led pest animal monitoring and management program

9. Australia’s largest community led pest animal monitoring and management program

June 30, 2021

If we brought all the users of FeralScan together, we’d fill most football stadiums within Australia.

With close to 30,000 users now signed up to the program since its inception in 2011, FeralScan can definitely take the title of Australia’s largest community led pest animal monitoring and management program, and it growing by the day.

In this episode, Peter West, the FeralScan national coordinator based with NSW DPI talks about the way in which the product is being used by farmers, land managers and community groups across the country to map and manage pest animals, with success, and with impact.

10. Driving genes to eradicate ferals

10. Driving genes to eradicate ferals

June 30, 2021

An effective and non lethal way of managing feral animals, weeds and other invasive species would be to suppress their reproduction over time, so the population slowly declines.

In this episode, we’ll introduce a new technology known as ‘gene drives’ that could be a game changer for future invasives species management.

Using targeted gene drives, scientists are looking at interrupting the breeding cycle of invasive species, which could keep populations at manageable levels.

Sounds simple, but is it? In this episode, we’ll hear from two CSIRO invasive species experts who have the job of making it a reality.

This longer podcast episode, goes in depth into this fascinating scientific technology.

11. Where are the keys to achieving a feral free future?

11. Where are the keys to achieving a feral free future?

June 30, 2021

Becoming feral free? Could this be a reality by 2030, 2040, 2050, 2100 or is it even possible, in a country as large as Australia?

In this final episode of our first podcast series, we are bringing in the CEOs from the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (Andreas Glanznig), NRM Regions Australia (Kate Andrews) and National Farmers Federation (Tony Maher), to discuss some of the key areas we need to take on action to ensure we can achieve the vision of a feral free future

Thanks for listening to the full series of ‘Towards A Feral Free Future’.

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