New policy to target feral pigs

New policy targets feral pigs

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Potential biosecurity threats are "very real" to SA's pork industry if landholders do not adhere to strengthened Declared Animal Policy's guidelines that came into effect in April according to Pork SA chair Mark McLean.

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PEST PATROL: Martins Well Rangeland Reserve manager Norton Warnest, via Hawker, has committed to reducing wild pig numbers across the 100,000-hectare property.

PEST PATROL: Martins Well Rangeland Reserve manager Norton Warnest, via Hawker, has committed to reducing wild pig numbers across the 100,000-hectare property.

Potential biosecurity threats are "very real" to SA's pork industry if landholders do not adhere to the strengthened Declared Animal Policy's guidelines that came into effect in April, according to Pork SA chair Mark McLean.

The revised Natural Resource Management Act 2004 policy guidelines, to help better manage SA's feral pig populations, have put a renewed focus on landholders to take greater responsibility or face hefty fines of up to $100,000 or imprisonment for two years.

Mr McLean said landholders needed to take greater responsibility.

"Feral pigs are a vector of many diseases and can cause significant environmental damage," he said.

"If there is a thriving pig population across Australia, a biosecurity risk from an overseas virus infecting the population is very real."

The main elements of the revised policy require landowners to destroy feral pigs, prevent domestic pigs from escaping and prevent the release of domestic and feral pigs.

The new guidelines also stated that domestic pigs required secure containment and an NRM officer can now request the landholder to take action to correct inefficient infrastructure.

Mr McLean attributed "trophy hunting" to the possible increase in feral pig populations.

"If a landholder allows pigs to breed for hunting, I would hope a $100,000 fine was a big disincentive," he said.

"Increased detection of foot and mouth disease in products at airports also means the threat of the disease ending up in our pig populations is greater."

Biosecurity SA strategy, policy and invasive species manager John Virtue said SA's feral pig numbers were between 1000 and 6000.

"Pigs can breed rapidly and Kangaroo Island's population is the highest - averaging about 4500," he said.

"Escaped domesticated pigs from farms have contributed to this feral population because of inadequate fences or being released for recreational hunting."

A recent feral pig management workshop held at Martins Well Rangeland Reserve in SA's northern pastoral area helped prepare local landholders for the policy changes.

Natural Resources SA Arid Lands biosecurity team leader Greg Patrick said feral pig populations were thriving throughout the district.

"Populations arriving from Qld has been a long-standing issue, but pigs entering from NSW into the area has happened in the past couple of years," he said.

Mr Patrick said the new policy outlined that if a landholder chose not to control feral pigs on their property, NRM could issue an order and the landholder would be required to undertake control within a specific time frame.

"If no action is taken, NRM will undertake the control work and seek the costs for doing so from the landholder," he said.

Martins Well Rangeland Reserve manager Norton Warnest, via Hawker, said pig populations in the district had increased after dry conditions in NSW had caused populations to change location in search of water.

"We have a large natural spring water system that has attracted feral pigs and we have seen a peak in the local population," he said.

Last year, Mr Warnest eradicated 20 pigs with baiting and shooting.

"We have already dealt with nine feral pigs this year," he said.

Mr Warnest was concerned if landholders did not control pig populations, damage to water sources and livestock would increase.

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