Feral Animals Pose Risk

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 A program to trap feral dogs and cats has begun at JCU to ensure student safety.

TRAPPING AROUND CAMPUS: Mr Goullet demonstrates the trap used to capture wild dogs that is harmless to humans

By Nicholas O’Sullivan

James Cook University has launched its annual feral animal control program to reduce the number of wild dogs and feral cats wandering onto the campus.

The program involves the setting and monitoring of traps around campus.

JCU Sustainability and Environment Manager Adam Connell said the program is part of the university’s risk management strategy.

“We don’t have a problem with dingos and wild dogs out in the conservation area or the defence land out the back – it’s when they approach the university that there’s risks we’ve got to manage,” he said.

“In an environment where we have 1500 students living on campus. It’s a risk to people and we also have really high-value research livestock over at the Vet Sciences complex.”

Feral animal control contractor owner Mark Goullet has had a contract with the university for many years and knows all too well the risks feral animals pose.

Mr Goullet said feral animals are known for carrying the airborne disease Q-Fever which four-university workers contracted in 2011.

“It can kill you and it’s present right now, outside,” he said.

“Dingos are bringing it in, so are some bandicoots and possums.”

Mr Goullet said JCU needs to control the wild dog population after reports from students who had been cornered by feral dogs wandering around the campus.

He said in previous years, students have been bailed up by dingos late at night in campus car parks and even come face-to-face with dingos on the foot-bridge to Veterinary Sciences.

“I remember there was a dingo that was always visiting a natural creek system that runs under the Nursing buildings,” Mr Goullet said.

“It turned out dingos were camped under that building in the shade during summer.”

Mr Goullet said JCU made the decision to do something about the feral animal problem to reduce the risk to students, staff and visitors to the campus.