With the growing risk of African Swine Fever entering Australia and decimating our $5 billion a year pork industry, the National Farmers’ Federation called on governments to act immediately to control Australia’s 24 million-strong feral pig population. If left uncontrolled and uncontained, feral pigs could be a major vector of this exotic disease, not currently in Australia, and potentially exacerbate a major problem.
In 2005, an Australian Government commissioned report investigated current options for managing feral pigs in Australia and assessed the need for the development of more effective and humane techniques and strategies.
This helped frame a strategic approach to feral pig management innovation and led to a CISS predecessor putting in place Australia’s then largest collaborative feral pig research, development and extension (RD&E) program.
This program produced new knowledge to innovate management, new tools and technologies available on farm (such as toxic baits and delivery systems), as well as digital feral pig monitoring programs through FeralScan.
However, feral pigs do remain in the landscape and like many established pest animal species, you can’t take your foot off the pedal. Continued, integrated and landscape scale management is required.
The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions agrees with the call of the National Farmers Federation that we need to take further collective and strategic action on feral pig management in Australia and part of this action includes further enhancing our national biosecurity system through innovative management solutions. This requires a long term funding source.
Ongoing national feral pig management also requires innovation and new technologies. We have had successes in this area due to an effective collaboration between Animal Control Technologies Australia, Meat and Livestock Australia, US Department of Agriculture, CSIRO and several universities and NRM bodies, particularly the Queensland Murray Darling Committee.
In 2014, PIGOUT® was made available in Australia as the world’s first manufactured 1080 based feral pig bait. The HOGHOPPER® was also developed as a species specific bait delivery system to ensure only feral pigs are targeted during baiting campaigns and not other native threatened species.
More recently, the next generation of toxin development has come to fruition and HOGGONE® (as a sodium nitrite based bait) is in its final stages of APVMA registration, making another humane and effective feral pig tool available in 2020.
Other nationally significant feral pig research undertaken in the past decade includes:
- Feral pig genetic mapping to identify optimal management units
- Measuring the demographic and genetic effects of pest control in a highly persecuted feral pig population
- Demonstration site in the Wet Tropics (feral pig management in areas with high conservation value non-target risks)
- Development of best-practice regional management, like the Macquarie Marshes.
- New toxins and innovative delivery systems
- Community engagement to promote cooperative feral pig management led through Darren Marshall’s PhD
- Facilitation of community led feral pig management through the availability of a community surveillance mapping feral tool – www.feralpigscan.org.au
- Development of national feral pig standard operating procedures for national vertebrate pests committee (now Environment and InvasivesCommittee) and other community action tools, glovebox guides etc available through PestSmart – https://www.pestsmart.org.au/pest-animal-species/feral-pig
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Image credit: Steve Maxwell