Acknowledgement of the Need for Management of Australia’s Rangelands

FANCY an article on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website suggesting that, “the rangelands are overall, in remarkably good health”. Not only that, but the recent article suggested there is a role for landholder in the management of Australia’s rangelands. Capricorn coast

As Barry Traill explained:

“Ecologists worry that with disappearance of the rangelands’ custodians there will be an explosion in invasive animal and plant species.

“The outback is one of the few great natural places in the world but it needs people to manage it with fires, and to manage the feral animals.”

32 Responses to Acknowledgement of the Need for Management of Australia’s Rangelands

  1. Debbie July 30, 2014 at 12:06 am #

    As Luke has been known to comment. . .Ah DUH!
    🙂
    Of course there is a role for landholders.
    They’re the most likely to protect the Aussie landscape from invasive animal and plant species.
    They even know how to do it efficiently.

    Ah DUH!

  2. Larry Fields July 30, 2014 at 5:22 am #

    One of my hiking friends grew up on a ranch. She told me about one item of cowboy folklore. If you see a few Filaree flowers on a piece rangeland, that indicates better than average grazing conditions for cattle. Here’s a link to a Filaree picture. I hope that it works.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/33/Erodium_January_2008-2.jpg/797px-Erodium_January_2008-2.jpg

  3. jennifer July 30, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    Thanks for the flowers, Larry.

  4. Pat July 30, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    “If you see a few Filaree flowers”. Erodium – that rang a bell.
    We call it corkscrew and it is a mongrel plant in the wool industry. Pick up a fleece with this in it and the seedhead pricks the finger and then the tip breaks off under the skin.
    Not nice at all.

  5. DaveW July 30, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    Assuming we are talking about Erodium cicutarium here, it is introduced and weedy in both North America and much of Australia (I just saw some on my walk in SE Queensland the other day). However, it is edible for us and sheep, cattle and wild life. The seeds are cool – they are flung way from the parent and coil and uncoil in response to humidity; and hence. plant themselves.

    No doubt a pain in wool, but a mixed blessing overall, and another point of difference between those who herd cattle and sheep.

  6. Debbie July 30, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    Hi Pat & Dave W.
    We get corkscew grass in our patch (Riverina).
    It looks very different to Larry’s pic but the seeds sound like they are remarkably similar.
    Sheep graziers and dog owners do not like it as the seeds burrow into fleece and coats and ears.
    It is not a wonderful food source for stock but they will eat it.

  7. Ian Thomson July 30, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

    Hi Pat,
    Rang the same bell with me.
    Larry is right about the feed thing I think, though.
    Don’t know the origin, but there is an old story of a successful, blind farmer coming to purchase a new farm, who told his servant to tie the horse to a thistle. When told there were none, he said, “Then let us go as we will not be buying this farm”.

    However, I read this post at about 6.30 am today, just after being told , at breakfast, that the plains wanderers, (birds) have mostly moved off Oolambeyan Station, since it was turned into a National Park, because they had survived there.
    Anyone can check it out, they were considered extinct, until an AMATEUR , from Deniliquin , found them alive and well there. They are mainly nocturnal, a survivor of the megafauna age and they need GRAZED grass to survive.
    Oolambeyan had been responsibly grazed, by one family, for yonks.
    They sold , to the Commonwealth PS Super Fund, -so, Canberra- so, National Park, Yay.

  8. Jennifer Marohay July 30, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

    Surprised at numbers of foxes in Victoria…

    http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/national/shooters-hand-in-300000th-fox-scalp-under-victorian-government-bounty-but-program-labelled-ineffective-in-reducing-populations/story-fnkfnspy-1227006840143

    “The four-year Victorian fox and wild dog bounty program started in October 2011.

    Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh has previously said the Victorian Government would “look to extend” the program if re-elected in November.

    Under the bounty, shooters receive $10 a fox or $100 for a wild dog skin. According to the Government, the total to July 25 was 302,513 fox and 1416 wild dog pieces.”

  9. hatrack July 31, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    A relative has Plains Wanderers’ on his Riverina cattle grazing property. He describes them as being like a skinny quail, but when they take to the air their legs dangle straight down and their flight appears awkward.

    They will also “sit” longer than a quail before taking flight, seeming to burst out from right under your boots.

    As Ian says, they need land that is grazed.

  10. davefromweewaa July 31, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    G’day all, long time no write.
    Plains Wanderers have been used as the excuse for turning farms into National Parks in Victoria too. The Weekly Times had a page of articles about it a couple of years ago which said they had left the NP and were only found on sheep farms. The very same week the environment minister Tony the Burke said that trials of grazing in NP’s were the equivalent of scientific whaling !

  11. spangled drongo July 31, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    A mob of wild cattle have moved in here and while I was a bit apprehensive at first the ground birds seem to be coping quite well. No Plains Wanderers of course [I wish] but Russet-tailed Thrushes, Whipbirds, Brown Quail, Log Runners, Scrub and Fairy Wrens, etc.

    Apart from mowing my grass they reduce the bushfire fuel-load and being cleanskins in good forward store condition, I can avail myself of a supply of prime beef any time I like.

    Mind you, they are as wild as hawks and I have to stalk them in the pitch dark.

    Nat Parks, next door, try to run them out but they only work 9 to 5 and have no chance.

    They also leave little [big] messages that are great for the garden.

    What’s not to like?

  12. spangled drongo July 31, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    However the feral predators are another kettle of fish.

    Our previous govt [Bligh] had plans to resume registered reserves all over Qld which would have prevented the farmer from controlling these predators because of the sacred position of the dingo.

    They were to be exclusive of domestic animals so the fire risk and the feral predators would have gone through the roof.

    The locals are the best way to manage the rangelands but these days, sadly, the motivation and philosophy of the locals are changing.

  13. redress July 31, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    Re plains wanderers and Oolambeyan Station…………Yes, they have moved off and are alive and well on the surrounding Riverina properties….not that you will get the owners to admit it publicly………..the less the dealings with govt environmentalists the better.

    The report below is illuminating reading.

    http://www.northernplainscmn.com.au/documents/20-Patho-plains-surveys-and-monitoring-May-2011.pdf

    “”The findings of this project indicate that there has been a c.90% decline in both the
    availability of suitable habitat and Plains-wanderer relative abundance during 2010
    and 2011. This decline has been due to unusually high rainfall causing a substantial
    increase in grassland density and the subsequent lack of an appropriate adaptive
    management response.
    There is an urgent need to redress this situation by increasing grazing intensity on the Patho Plains, on government reserves and private properties
    under Bush Tender contracts before spring 2011. “”

  14. Larry Fields July 31, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    Jennifer,
    A long time ago, you mentioned the possibility of using grazing as a wildfire prevention tool in the grassy areas of the NSW high country (≥5000 ft). I’d like to add a new wrinkle to your idea. Why not use Bison instead of cattle?

    American (and Canadian) Bison are well-adapted to living year-round in climates with snowy Winters, in the Great Plains. With their big heads and strong necks, Bison can knock snow drifts out of the way in order to get at the yummy grass underneath.

    You would not need to round up the Bison, and bring them down to a lower elevation for the Winter. You could leave the Bison up in the high country year round.

    When the Bison population approaches carrying capacity, you could eat a few of them at the end of every Summer. BTW, the taste of Bison is nearly identical to that of beef.

    However there’s a fly in the ointment. Brucellosis is an issue with Bison. The ‘seed’ Bison that you import would need to be quarantined initially, tested, and treated with appropriate antibiotics, before turning them loose.

  15. Ian Thomson July 31, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Hi Larry,
    Bison , or cattle,or brumbies, the allowing of such animals in Oz high country is a hot topic.
    It has been well proved that such animals damage delicate alpine swamps etc.
    It has also been well proved , that human occupation of most coastal areas of Oz , by humans, seems to have turned nice swamps and rivers , into carparks, suburbs and footy fields.
    Problem is, in Oz , city voters want all, not some nice places OUTSIDE the cities, preserved, in some Utopian state, which has never ever existed.
    And 80% of the voters live in those cities. Poor dumb bastards. But they rule.

  16. Debbie August 1, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    Yes Redress.
    Along with the Bitterns. . .We would prefer the plains wanderers are left alone.
    They are very shy birds and don’t like to be stalked by ‘environmentalists’.
    We would like the ‘do gooders’ to harrass the ducks instead… they need to be stalked 🙂

  17. redress August 2, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Larry Fields July 31, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Bison are already up there on at least one property near Cudgewa, 12 kilometres from Corryong, very near the Burrowa – Pine Mountain National Park – Betoomba Bison Farm –

  18. jaycee August 2, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    A policy to adopt in Aust’ ?

    http://www.hedgelink.org.uk/importance-hedges-and-hedgerows.htm

  19. DaveMyFace August 2, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    Jaycee

    Agree, but not hedgerows as in the UK

    Large belts of mixed trees, shrubs etc up to 50 meters wide running along the contour lines of the property
    These provide a source of fertiliser for everything below them (plus birds & animal shelter)
    Wind reduction = less soil loss in drought
    Water flow takes the nutrients from the belts to the pasture or crops

    Done this on some properties in NQ (cattle), now running more head/hectare than previously especially in the dry

    Planted all species, including introduced, deciduous etc, now the natives are coming through naturally. Trying to keep the big gums under control as they will dominate eventually (to a monoculture).

    Many in western & northern QLD doing this now, without policy? Maybe if Governments got involved, they’d muck it up?

  20. jaycee August 2, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Hmmm…Impressed!….DMF……Whatever works and works for the good…I was wondering about the mix of trees..thinking on the lines of that comment in the piece about the animals using certain plants medicinally.
    I’d wonder too about fire-resistant plants, but I admit having some doubt about the real effectiveness of those in a ripper of a fire.
    My experience here in the mallee is that it is quiet remarkable how it can be blowing a gale above, but there is very little movement of air in the understorey.

  21. jaycee August 2, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    Though there are several semi NGOs who can supply and fund regrowth projects…they do here in the SA. Mallee.

  22. DaveMyFace August 2, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    Medicinal?

    Agree again, especially with horses, the more mix of pasture plant species the better the result. With limited plant species, the nags always seem to need VETS for supplements, vitamins etc. The trees, especially weeping willow, get grazed on also, and that contains aspirin I think. No nagging headaches. Weeds are left to grow also. Just a balanced diet.

    The tree belts are far enough apart and kept under control at all times. Fire has burnt out neighbouring National Parks but not the property. Better to have fire management than fire resistant trees, gums burn, but regrow and dominate to just about kill an area in fertility. I’ve used all species, from conifers, poplars, willows, hibiscus, you name it, it’s there. And all help each other, drop leaves continually (not oil laden like gums) and the ground below retains moisture for months.

    Cattle elimination from creek beds by belts also have saved them. The water is pumped to higher ground for stock. The animals fertilise the high ground. All the pastures below are strong and diverse.

    Just about all the NGO’s etc want ONLY native species regrowth, but they are too slow and lack the ability to retain ground moisture. Most of these properties are now in great health and approaching maximum stock holding way above what was thought previously.

  23. Ian Thomson August 2, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

    Jaycee, Dave,
    OH , BLOODY HELL
    I know you are not City people. Please buy a car and drive somewhere .
    I have a 4WD , which is now well run in and has actually saved my life , at least once.
    I suggest that you pop down to Mathoura and bring back their supermarket.

  24. DaveMyFace August 2, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    Ian,

    The IGA Mathoura supermarket closed in February 2014

    Buy a car & drive somewhere?

    You have a 4WD that saved your life once?

    I’m from QLD, not NSW, but please explain what you’re trying to say please.

  25. hunter August 3, 2014 at 12:35 am #

    In the US feral hogs are a mobile environmental disaster, eating their way across much of America.
    Feral cats are in second spot, but are cute and tolerated. Allowing stakeholders in open and wild spaces to severely curtail both would do a lot here in the US to allow native wildlife and plants to return in good numbers.

  26. Larry Fields August 3, 2014 at 2:22 am #

    hunter August 3, 2014 at 12:35 am #
    “In the US feral hogs are a mobile environmental disaster, eating their way across much of America.
    Feral cats are in second spot, but are cute and tolerated. Allowing stakeholders in open and wild spaces to severely curtail both would do a lot here in the US to allow native wildlife and plants to return in good numbers.”

    I agree that feral cats are an issue in American urban areas. The cats scavenge, and they eat mice and birds. Some uninformed city people deliberately feed the beasties.

    However I have never seen a feral cat on any of my mountain or forest hikes. Why not? My understanding is that the coyotes eat them. Coyotes can run nearly as fast as whippets. If a hungry coyote sees a feral cat out in the open, with no tree to climb, the cat is toast.

    BTW, coyotes are almost everywhere. They even have a stealth presence in our cities. These highly intelligent canids have been very successful in adapting to the human presence.

    About the feral hogs . . . Here in California, it is legal to shoot them. But you really should check out the hunting regulations first.

    My brother shot a feral hog many years ago, and gave me a little of the meat. It tasted terrible. I do NOT want to know what that feral hog had been eating.

  27. Ian Thomson August 3, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    Jaycee and Dave,
    Sorry if I was abrupt.
    You blokes were discussing hedgerows and horses, while farmers next to NP’s have to employ people to shoot ferals, coming from them.
    Was thinking about talking to you blokes, as I drove through what used to be Booligal Station and is now a NP.
    In the 1980’s two of our crew, from Vic, went there early, so they could hunt on Sunday.
    They , on motorbikes, shot over 70 pigs.
    The following week , the owner got a chopper in, — Over 1200.
    Next weekend , the same 2 went out , on their motorbikes and got 18.
    The owner died and his widow willed the place as a National Park.
    Enter Bob Carr , she said she was made an offer , she could not refuse, -sold it.

    They wanted it so badly, because it had an ibis rookery on it. — Any local, (especially the owner), can tell you it is next door.
    WELL, as I was thinking about this, a mob of emus were beside the road, near the big fence posts, with wires removed, ( cause it’s a NP).
    Well the last one HOPPED off the road, like a sparrow. Is that what the post is about ?

  28. Debbie August 4, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    http://davidshoebridge.org.au/2014/08/01/200000-ducks-killed-by-amateur-hunters-in-nsw/

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/200000-native-ducks-shot-as-pests-of-rice-crops-20140802-zzrjj.html

    I still say that rather than stalking and harassing Bitterns and Plains Wanderers in our part of the world. . .these people could instead stalk and harass the ducks!
    The Bitterns and the Plains Wanderers are very shy, are not hurting anyone and we would all prefer them to be left alone to go about their business in our crops and pastures in peace.
    On the other hand….these stalkers could instead be employed as ” viable non-lethal control methods” to scare off the ducks!!!!!
    🙂
    As opposed to Bitterns and Plains Wanderers (and many many other water birds that co exist on our properties), ducks are not shy, they arrive in plague proportions, they cause a lot of damage and cost us time and money to keep them away from our crops at night.
    Most of us already use “non lethal methods” as none of us have the time or much of an inclination to go out every night trying to shoot ducks. We don’t mind them on our dams or in our channels or in the swamps and wetlands. . .we just don’t like them in plague proportions in our crops.
    Here we use flashing lights, gas scare guns, alternate sowing methods and we also will send in the sheep dogs to scare them off.
    Mr Shoebridge clearly has never seen how many 100,000’s can turn up some seasons or any clue about how much damage they can do. . . nor does he seem to have much of an idea about how severely restricted those shooting licences are. Ducks far outnumber the human population in this area…by many 100,000s!!!
    As a further aside. . .most of us around here rarely let anyone on our properties to shoot anything and we will only allow it if we are abolutely certain we can trust them to do the right thing.

  29. Robert August 4, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    You know, if a black or even wood duck should happen to have an accident, I swear by melting the finely cut (not minced) flesh in its own fat and juice for hours, flavoured with maybe some mace, peppercorns and star aniseed. If you deglaze the resulting sauce with a smidgin of proper balsamic and pour the result, fat and all, over fresh ribbon noodles…

    Not that you’d want ducks to have accidents!

  30. Ian Thomson August 4, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

    Robert,
    Back in the day, when such things were normal , some of the blokes shot a few wood ducks, (prepped them), and asked the shearers’ cook to cook them.
    He considered it beneath him and appealed to the overseer, who told him why not? If the boys wanted to eat them and thereby keep their mess bill down.
    So he roasted them and well one lunchtime, but , don’t know how he did it, but he baited most of the ones who ate any , a couple of days later. As in toilet time.

    Woodies are like many native animals, (like the coyotes in US), who thrive on us humans changing the landscape.
    More green stuff , more permanent water, believe it or not, more redgums.
    Good farmers destroy foxes, pigs and cats. There seems to be a mental block, in cities , concerning the leg up farmers are giving these potential plague animals.
    Sometimes , they need culled. They would die cruelly , from starvation anyway.
    Mr Shoebridge should come and look at my girlfriend’s front lawn at this time of year , woodies waddle , in mobs, from the lagoon across the road, to eat , ( and it is a sight to see , for anyone who hasn’t watched one eat , mow is a better word), CLOVER. Lot of that about , before farmers came, right.
    They are actually beautiful birds and hilarious to watch at close quarters, but they are probably in double the numbers, because farming gives them a leg up.

  31. Robert August 4, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    Ian, I’ve cooked duck out in the wild for groups. I found the best way was to sort of triple cook: scorch, steam then bake, all in the same cast iron pot. If you’ve got too many just rip off the breasts. To stretch quantities I stew up with beans or lentils, or let brown rice absorb cooking juice for a sort of paella. If you had plenty of hard back fat from a clean wild pig you could make a hell of a pate or terrine with the flesh and gizzards of black duck.

    But God forbid any of them should have an accident!

  32. Ian Thomson August 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    Robert , I am amazed that some do.
    As a town dweller now, with a place in the scrub, I look at the woodies AND the feral pigeons and know there is food there, in an emergency.

    Need an emergency though, because the NSW govt is about to bring in permits , certificates, etc , etc.
    Sydney is such a taxing , dopey , GREEN, place

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