Graziers form clusters to combat exploding numbers of feral pigs

Dusty Trails helicopter pilot Daniel Black, NQ Dry Tropics Regional Pest Management Group Coordinator Thijs Kruger, and Land Protection Officers John Fisher (Barcaldine Regional Council), Andries van Jaarsveld (Isaac Regional Council) and Michelle Ross (Isaac Regional Council).

Landholders from Alpha and Clermont have formed cluster groups as feral pig numbers and control costs surge.

The aim is to enhance feral pig control activities of the Isaac and Barcaldine regional councils within the Burdekin Dry Tropics NRM region. Landholders have been engaged through workshops to establish cluster groups in three areas.

NQ Dry Tropics has received assistance through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements: Environmental Recovery Package: Weeds and Pest Management Program to undertake feral pig management with local governments.

NQ Dry Tropics Regional Pest Management Group Coordinator Thijs Krugers said across two years, four three-day shoots would be conducted across an area of 750,000ha.

“Significant rainfall in the past 12 months has caused an increase in feral pig numbers in the Isaac and Barcaldine regions due to increased availability of food and water. Numbers are exploding so control measures have become critical,” Mr Krugers said.

“Cluster groups enable neighbours to team up to share the cost of professional eradication services. Local councils act as trustee, coordinate the control program and manage the administration.

“Feral pigs cause significant agricultural and environmental damage and pose a biosecurity risk for the spread of diseases such as Foot and Mouth disease, African swine fever, and Japanese encephalitis virus.”

Isaac Regional Council Director of Planning, Environment and Community Services Dan Wagner, said effective management of feral pigs required collaborative stakeholder planning and implementation.

“The benefits of cluster-based approaches to feral pig management have been demonstrated in other regions and is supported and recommended at a national level by the National Feral Pig Action Plan,” Mr Wagner said.

“They guide where and when aerial control operations will take place.

“They also help in identifying feral pig whereabouts and movements and tracking the cost of infrastructure damage and repair as a result of feral pigs.”

NQ Dry Tropics facilitates and coordinates the development of syndicates for feral pig management in the Burdekin Dry Tropics region through the Regional Pest Management Group network, of which Isaac and Barcaldine regional councils are members.

The number and locations of culled feral pigs will be recorded for reporting and evaluation.