'Judas' donkeys lead to aerial cull

Donkeys on pest watch list in far west

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In the latest cull, 21 feral donkeys were shot across eight properties covering 380,728 hectares in the Packsaddle and White Cliffs area. Photo: NSW DPI

In the latest cull, 21 feral donkeys were shot across eight properties covering 380,728 hectares in the Packsaddle and White Cliffs area. Photo: NSW DPI

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Winning the war against feral donkeys in the state's far west.

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A decade ago donkeys were not considered a pest on the rugged terrain in the far west.

Fast forward to today and their numbers have grown dramatically to the point where they are reaping destruction wherever they go.

They break fences and compete for pasture with the grazing units of a feral donkey estimated at seven Dry Sheep Equivalent

"They weren't here 10 years ago and have grown in numbers in the last couple of years," Graham Turner from Grasmere Station said, which is north of Broken Hill.

"They were further north but as they were not controlled up there they have eaten out areas and moved into other areas, spreading their territory.

"The seasonal conditions have not been favourable in the last few years, and with few resources on the ground you don't need it to be eaten by a pest animal."

That's when the 'Judas donkey' stepped in, which are animals that betray their mobs through GPS tracking. In the latest cull, 21 feral donkeys were shot across eight properties covering 380,728 hectares in the Packsaddle and White Cliffs area.

In this program, one collared feral donkey led to a mob with seven feral donkeys, while two collared donkeys were in another mob with an 11 donkeys. It's the third aerial control program targeting feral donkeys in just over 18 months.

Senior biosecurity officer Grant Davis.

Senior biosecurity officer Grant Davis.

"Ask any farmer who has experience with feral donkeys and they will tell you what kind of impact they can have on primary production, whether it be through grazing pressure, the destruction of fences or generally threatening the property's biosecurity," Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said

"These 'Judas donkeys' have unknowingly betrayed their mobs to us through specialised GPS tracking, which means we can more effectively and efficiently manage their numbers and remove a major headache for farmers."

Mr Marshall said the numbers from the latest program were down from the 50 pests controlled in December, and less than the mid-2019 program when 322 feral donkeys were controlled.

"This tells us that we are winning the war against feral donkeys," he said.

Another 95 feral pigs were also removed from the region in the same shoot.

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