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Observations on the contacts and home ranges of feral goats in relation to the spread of diseases of livestock

  • Author(s): Fleming, Peter J. S.
  • et al.
Abstract

Many diseases of livestock, such as foot and mouth disease (FMD), rinderpest, pest des petite ruminants, and maedi-visna, are exotic to Australia and contingency plans are in place to counteract their introduction. Epidemic modeling fulfills a vital role in these plans. Feral goats occur at high density with livestock in the high-rainfall zone of eastern Australia. Contact within and between groups of domestic and feral ungulates contribute to the behavior of disease in sympatric populations, and are essential parameters for epizootic models. A project in central New South Wales, Australia is investigating the contacts and home range sizes of feral goats in order to construct models for FMD transmission. Preliminary analysis has shown that contacts between feral goats and sheep were fewer than between feral goats, and that the home ranges of goats in the study were small (<2.5 km2). This paper discusses: the home ranges of feral goats in different environments; the interactions between feral goats and sheep; the potential of feral goats to maintain and spread exotic diseases common to goats and sheep; and modeling of disease transmission between feral goats and sheep.

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