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The western NSW rangeland is the pastoral zone of NSW, with increasing abundance and distribution of feral goats (Capra hircus). Feral goats are generally viewed as agricultural pests impacting on agricultural production and natural resources but they are also valuable economic resources that generate income for many pastoralists. This paper presents an economic analysis of alternative feral goat management strategies in the western NSW rangelands. We used benefit‐cost analysis to evaluate the Net Present Value (NPV) and Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) of feral goat management strategies including do‐nothing, opportunistic harvesting, ‘value added goats’ and establishment of goat‐proof fencing on representative properties in the Bourke, Cobar and Broken Hill districts. We found that the opportunistic harvesting and ‘value added goats’ strategies generate net benefits whereas do‐nothing and goat‐proof fencing strategies return net losses resulting mainly from the opportunity cost of lost income. The NPV of the management strategies examined ranged between ‐$383,577 and $855,836, with BCR between 0.34 and 3.77. NPVs were more sensitive to goat price than goat population. Establishment of goat‐proof fencing could be justified only if increases in stocking rate could be achieved beyond those resulting from the replacement of feral goats by sheep. If achieved over the whole property, these increases are probably not beyond what might be expected from improved gazing management. The implications of the results for natural resource management policies in the region are briefly discussed.


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