Feral goat eradications on islands.

Abstract: Introduced mammals are major drivers of extinction. Feral goats (Capra hircus) are particularly devastating to island ecosystems, causing direct and indirect impacts through overgrazing, which often results in ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. Removing goat populations from islands is a powerful conservation tool to prevent extinctions and restore ecosystems. Goats have been eradicated successfully from 120 islands worldwide. With newly developed technology and techniques, island size is perhaps no longer a limiting factor in the successful removal of introduced goat populations. Furthermore, the use of global positioning systems, geographic information systems, aerial hunting by helicopter, specialized hunting dogs, and Judas goats has dramatically increased efficiency and significantly reduced the duration of eradication campaigns. Intensive monitoring programs are also critical for successful eradications. Because of the presence of humans with domestic goat populations on large islands, future island conservation actions will require eradication programs that involve local island inhabitants in a collaborative approach with biologists, sociologists, and educators. Given the clear biodiversity benefits, introduced goat populations should be routinely removed from islands.

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