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FeralScan celebrates 10 years of pest monitoring

FeralScan
Peter West, FeralScan national coordinator and invasive species specialist with NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has seen FeralScan grow from a simple citizen science project into a popular, community-led monitoring and management program with more than a quarter of a million pest animal records. Image by Jeanette Spittle.

Launched on Australia Day 2011, FeralScan has marked its tenth anniversary with a major upgrade to the free Centre for Invasive Species Solutions community pest management resource, which will enhance pest animal management programs across Australia.

Peter West, FeralScan national coordinator and invasive species specialist with NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said it has grown from a simple citizen science project into a popular, community-led monitoring and management program with more than a quarter of a million pest animal records.

“FeralScan contains data entered by more than 25,000 people, making it the largest community-driven pest animal monitoring program in Australia,” Mr West said.

“Continuous input from farmers, community groups, professional pest animal controllers, industry and government biosecurity organisations has delivered an important resource which informs pest animal management programs across the country.

“The program now allows people to record and monitor up to twenty-seven different pest animal species to guide local management programs, including inner-Sydney fox management, feral pig control on islands and wild dog programs from regional Western Australia to the east coast.

“More than 400 community and biosecurity groups now use the resource in a strategic way to monitor pest animals, plan control, document their efforts and evaluate outcomes”.

Peter West has been a driving force behind FeralScan since 2011 and attributes its success to the many farmers, landholder groups and biosecurity experts who have contributed to its success over the years.

Helen Lawson, sheep producer and Hargraves-Hill End Landholder Group Secretary in the Central Tablelands of NSW, is a proud ally and FeralScan user.

“We use FeralScan to monitor wild dog activity. It automatically notifies landholders and the local community of wild dog reports, which help us plan and undertake control measures,” Ms Lawson said.

“The group has used FeralScan to record wild dog sightings, attacks on livestock and control activities across their district to improve the effectiveness of management. It has become increasingly useful as more people use the resource.”

FeralScan works through a user-friendly website and phone app and Mr West has travelled across Australia to consult with and support landholder and community groups to ensure they are getting the full benefits of the resource.

In 2016, FeralScan was recognised with a national Banksia Foundation Award for its contribution to enhancing environmental outcomes within Australia through science and research innovation.

Launched on Australia Day, 2011, FeralScan marks its 10th year milestone with a major makeover and enhancements to its dashboard interface – check it out at feralscan.org.au

Other FeralScan milestones include the 2017 national release of the RHDV1 K5 rabbit biocontrol agent when it became Australia’s first real-time rabbit biocontrol monitoring service, development of the 2018 national carp map and DeerScan which was launched in 2019 and now hosts nearly 4000 feral deer reports to help strategically manage deer populations.

This year, FeralScan program is trialing new platforms for community reports of feral donkeys, feral buffalo and exotic reptiles, including red-eared slider turtles.

FeralScan can be found online, https://feralscan.org.au/ and the app can be downloaded by searching for ‘FeralScan’ in Apple or GooglePlay stores.

FeralScan receives funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, Australian Wool Innovation and NSW DPI through the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions.

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