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The King Leopold Range Conservation Park is still home to feral and unmanaged stock


 
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Sharon Ferguson, Head of the Nature Conservation Unit in the Department of Environment and Conservation at Broome, talks about one of the priorities in her role, dealing with feral or unmanaged stock.    
On the Gibb River Road in the Kimberley lies the King Leopold Range Conservation Park, a place of sandstone gorges and cliffs. Once a pastoral lease, there are still cattle remaining within the park due to the remote and rugged aspects of the country. The park is also bordered by other pastoral leases and because of the country, accessibility and the wet season potential to bring down fences the Conservation Park  does get neihgbouring cattle come in to graze.  Some areas are not fenced at all, another management issue.

The management of the cattle is a long process and requires open relationships with neighbouring pastoralists. Sharon has just finished talking to them about proposed control plans, allowing them time to muster and move any cattle they know to have strayed into the park.
Options for control include contract muster, on ground control, fencing and aerial controls. The inaccessibility of certain areas within the Conservation Park may prescribe which option is most appropriate.

Pigs are also a problem, especially as they like riparian zones such as waterholes. The pig problem along the Fitzroy River is getting worse, so some trial methods are being used. Baiting, specifically 1080 baiting, works quite well and trapping and shooting programs are about to be rolled out in the West Kimberley Parks including Geikie Gorge and the King Leopold Range Conservation Park. One of the trapping options is to use a simple 'figure 6' trap which the animals can push through the wire to enter but can not push out.

Pigs and cattle both alter the native landscape, using and destroying vegetation, destroying habitats for native animals and trampling the waterways where they congregate. Trampling the vegetation also provides a vector for weeds, creating further damage. Controls are mainly conducted during the dry season due to access which is also when the tourists visit.

That is a spread we can do without.


Text: V.B. October 2009

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