A report analysing rangeland goat population figures shows numbers have declined from a record high of 5.7million in 2016 to 3.4million in 2017.
The NSW DPI report, based on figures from the Office of Environment and Heritage 2017 aerial survey of central and western NSW, confirms goat industry observations on the ground.
Goat Industry Council of Australia president Rick Gates said the report reflected industry expectations.
‘‘From my observations I expected numbers to be down by 20 or 30 per cent, so I wasn’t surprised,’’ Mr Gates said.
‘‘On a positive note, NSW DPI is working closely with industry and these results build goat industry confidence in the data collection, which is used by the newly-formed Goat Industry Forecasting Committee.’’
NSW DPI senior research scientist and report author Steven McLeod said updated survey techniques and modern technology have boosted the accuracy of results.
‘‘Digital technology has replaced pen and paper — in 2016 we updated the system used since goats surveys began in 1992 with modern survey design,’’ Dr McLeod said.
‘‘We are confident the new methods are reliable, OEH data collection is of a high standard and results are accurate with greater precision in indicating population changes.’’
Dr McLeod said the reason for the population decline was unclear and further work was needed to build a better understanding of goat population dynamics and factors influencing changes.
‘‘Dry seasonal conditions and the unprecedented high goat population in 2016 could help explain the population decline this year,’’ he said.