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Pig numbers "wildly out of control"

Western Plains App

Kristin Murdock

10 June 2024, 3:40 AM

Pig numbers "wildly out of control"The control of feral pigs is in the news again (Image: Pestsmart)

Damage from feral pigs, and their high population is nothing new to Western Plains farmers.


It is an issue being recognised on a state level and NSW Farmers President, Xavier Martin said that next week's state budget was the perfect opportunity to address the problem.


“There’s reports of feral pigs weighing well over 100 kilograms charging through the paddocks, trashing food crops and killing calves and lambs at the drop of a hat,” Mr Martin said. “These pests are bigger than the people trying to control them – and they are costing landholders many thousands of dollars in lost production and control costs that they simply can’t keep up with."


Western Local Land Services(WLLS) have established priority landscape scale control zones to reduce numbers and impacts in feral pig hotspots, including in the North West, Central West and Western NSW. Local Land Services (LLS) is currently delivering the 2023-2024 $13 million Feral Pig Program on behalf of the NSW Government in response to widespread growth in the number of feral pigs across NSW. As of May 29th, 99,541 pigs have been controlled and 10.72 million hectares have been protected.


Garry Mooring from Rose Isle Station near Louth said the WLLS aerial shooting program had just wound up near his land.


"They finished the shoot here last week but I think they are still shooting further down the river," Mr Mooring said. 'I was sent a report and they shot 380 pigs last Thursday and 270 pigs on Friday, plus three deers, all in the area just below Louth. A few years ago there was a trial which focussed on shooting as many pigs as possible in one area and then going back two or three times to cover the same area to see how many numbers they come up with. Going on the figures I've received there's been a drop in number of pigs they’ve got."


Mr Mooring said the technology in the fight against the feral animals is always improving.


"They are now using daytime thermal imaging which seems to be quite successful," he said. "They can recognise the animal and double check that it is, in fact, a pig or deer and not something else."


Mr Martin said while recent efforts by the Minns Government to support baiting, trapping and aerial shooting of feral pigs had been warmly welcomed by farmers, funding for pig control must be scaled up significantly in this year’s NSW budget to get on top of the problem.


“More than 77,000 pigs have been culled by the state’s Feral Pig Program since October last year – and while this has made a dent in the population, we’ve still got millions of pigs ruining production on our prime agricultural land,” Mr Martin said.


“They’re superspreaders of disease and reproduce at a rate that means we need to cull many millions a year to break the breeding cycle, so we have a fight on our hands that we simply can’t face alone.”


Mr Mooring agreed that biosecurity is a huge issue among feral animals.


"It's a big problem. If we have a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in this country, pigs and deer are going to be the animals that will spread it, not domestic stock. Domestic stock will carry it for sure, but it'll be pigs and deer that will spread it far and wide," Mr Mooring said.


Mr Martin was forthright in his opinion around pig control.


“If we want to fend off these pests for good, we need to see some serious funding for feral pig control in the NSW budget in June – or else we simply don’t stand a chance,” he said.