The National Feral Pig Action Plan
Feral pigs are a major pest that continue to pose a significant threat to Australia’s $60 billion agricultural industry, destroying crops and pastures, spreading weeds and disease and preying on livestock. Feral pigs also cause serious damage to the natural environment.
The economic cost to Australian agriculture of feral pig activity, including infrastructure and control costs, was conservatively estimated in 2002 to be in excess of $100m per year (Bomford and Hart 2002). This estimate does not include those costs associated with environmental, biodiversity and social impacts caused by feral pigs, reflecting the difficulty and complexity involved in quantifying these costs.
As this economic cost estimate is derived from studies conducted over twenty years ago, work is underway to better understand the economic impact of feral pigs and assess their non-market environmental and social impacts.
In December 2019, the Australian Government provided $1.4 million over 3.5 years to Australian Pork Limited (APL) to establish a National Feral Pig Management Coordinator to facilitate the delivery of feral pig management approaches on a national, regional and local scale, undertake stakeholder engagement, drive effective investment and raise awareness of feral pig issues.
This work will help to ensure that the most effective feral pig control methods are understood, used and applied according to national Model Codes of Practice and Standard Operating Procedures that have been developed to provide guidance on best practice; strengthening the on-ground work carried out by state and territory governments and landholders.
For the goal of this program to be achieved, we need strong co-ordinated and cohesive partnerships between everyone involved.
Bomford M and Hart Q (2002). “Non-indigenous vertebrates in Australia” Ch 3, pp. 25–44, in Biological Invasions: Economic and Environmental Costs of Alien Plant, Animal and Microbe Species, ed D Pimentel. New York, CRC Press.
There is a need to:
- Secure sustainable, longer term funding to actively suppress feral pig populations
- Increase government and industry awareness of feral pig issues at the local level and the work being done by community led groups;
- Engage with, and train, landholders to build their capacity and capability of best practice management methods for feral pigs;
- Increase landholder motivation and encourage greater participation in coordinated feral pig control activities
- Create a national database to bring all the data together
- Obtain more consistency in regulations across jurisdictions, including control methods able to be used
- Address illegal feral pig hunting activities and their impacts.
We will work closely with our stakeholders to tackle these issues together.
The Co-ordinator is also leading the implementation of the National Feral Pig Action Plan. The National Feral Pig Action Plan sets out a range of actions to reduce feral pig impacts and enhance the effectiveness of their management by land managers, using integrated best practice management methods. The Plan supports coordinated and sustained action, capacity and capability over the long-term by land managers, working together.
Widespread support and involvement of governments and stakeholders in the implementation of the Plan is essential to deliver the key actions of the Plan.
Agreed principles and guidelines that inform actions of stakeholders, including landholders, governments, communities, industry and research providers, to support whole-of-population control.
Meet the team implementing The Plan.
Dr. Heather Channon
National Feral Pig Management Coordinator
Leading the Plan, as Australia’s first National Feral Pig Management Coordinator, is Dr. Heather Channon.
Prior to her appointment as National Feral Pig Management Coordinator, Dr. Channon was General Manager of Research & Innovation at Australian Pork Limited. Dr. Channon has a PhD and Masters in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Melbourne and has a strong background in leading research and development programs to benefit the Australian pork and lamb industries.
Dr. Narelle Dybing
National Feral Pig Program Support Officer
Prior to starting with the National Feral Pig Action Plan, Dr Narelle Dybing was involved in many projects researching parasites of invasive animals at Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia.
Dr Dybing has a double degree in Biomedical Science and Conservation Biology from Murdoch University. She conducted her honours in Parasitology looking at parasites in red foxes and feral cats in the southwest WA. Her PhD then investigated parasites in feral cats and black rats in WA and its offshore islands including Christmas Island and Dirk Hartog Island. Since completing her PhD, Dr Dybing’s research focused on the parasite diversity in invasive animals including wild dogs and urban foxes in WA.