August 02, 2012 -- Australia's Shoalhaven City Council has developed a ground-breaking, online pest-reporting website to protect a range of local species under threat from feral animals and noxious weeds.
Using location intelligence specialists Esri Australia’s cutting-edge Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, the site enables the public to provide detailed reports of foxes, wild dogs and poisonous weeds that are slowly killing off local marsupial and migratory shorebird populations.
Esri Australia’s New South Wales Business Manager David Purkiss said the website had provided Council with its most successful tool yet for fighting the scourge.
“Shoalhaven City Council is committed to protecting its native species, however pest control over an area of around 4,000 square kilometres is a formidable task,” Mr Purkiss said.
“Before the mapping website was introduced, control measures depended on time-consuming telephone reports and paper maps.
“The new intelligent maps allows locals to report full descriptions of pest sightings, upload relevant pictures and define specific locations via a user-friendly web interface.
“This provides the council’s staff with a highly accurate and up-to-date understanding of pest incidences and movements – and a clear outline of the action required to control the situation.
“Trappers are now reporting all-time highs in their success rates and this can only improve as more geospatial data is added to the council’s maps and the website is refined further.”
The website will assist eradication programs across the state for the New South Wales Government and wildlife organisations, which spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on pest management.
The State Government has even developed a Fox Abatement Plan to tackle the destructive Red Fox species, effectively declaring war on the animal because of the damage they cause to local bio-diversity.
Shoalhaven City Council Natural Resources Officer Greg Thompson said the website was helping to track species like the Red Fox, which are nocturnal, and highly mobile, making them difficult to cull.
"The amount of detail we get from reports made through the site enables pest-control contractors to focus on ‘hot spots’ and predict the movements of even the stealthiest species,” Mr Thompson said.
“While we will never be able to completely eradicate the threat of these pests, we are achieving our highest success rates so far.
“Indigenous wildlife such as the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby and the Long-nosed Potoroo are now being given the very best chance of survival in Shoalhaven thanks to the implementation of this GIS technology.”