National Feral Pig Action Plan
Find out more about feral pigs projects taking place across Queensland.
This is a dynamic Hub. It will be continually updated to include additional programs and to ensure that its content is current.
If your program is not listed and you would like it to be placed on the Hub, or you would like to provide an update on your program, please Contact Us.
Please note: authorisation of content for a program is obtained prior to its inclusion into the Hub.
Location: Brisbane (Head Office), Queensland
The Department is responsible for administering the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and Forestry Act 1959 as the legislation for the conservation of nature and for forest management in Queensland.
Through the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), DES manages more than 1,000 protected area and forest estates, such as National Parks and State forests, covering more than 13 million hectares of land across Queensland.
QPWS manage feral pigs on parks and forests across Queensland, with the primary objective to ensure the protection of natural and cultural values, while also discharging its obligations as a landholder. These obligations include, providing for public safety, being a good neighbour, fostering collaborative partnerships, and ensuring it meets it biosecurity obligations under the Queensland Biosecurity Act 2014.
QPWS funds its feral pig control on parks and forests as part of broader pest management. The QPWS Strategic Pest Management Program provides one of the main funding sources for QPWS Rangers to deliver their management of pest species threatening key values of the park and forest estate and to support QPWS custodial obligations (to work with neighbours and communities). Control activities undertaken include aerial shooting, aerial and ground baiting, trapping and ground shooting.
QPWS participates as a partner in Commonwealth and Queensland Government feral pig programs. Examples include the Nest to Ocean Protection Program to reduce the threats posed by feral pigs and other predator species on marine turtle nesting; and also through the Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program where Land and Sea Rangers, as part of their caring for country activities, undertake feral animal control including feral pigs.
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
This organisation provides volunteer self-funded pest animal management to landholders, state and local governments, natural resource and conservation organisations in Queensland. Property assessments are carried out followed by the formulation of an integrated pest management plan, with volunteer teams allocated to implement the agreed plan.
CWM Qld may also conduct trapping, scientific data collection, animal and plant surveys and general assistance for property owners to help check dams and stock, incidental fence repairs and general property maintenance. A Deed of Agreement is in place between SSAA QLD and QPWS for members of the Conservation and Wildlife Management QLD to undertake co-ordinated ground shooting/trapping activities of feral and pest animals to protect biodiversity.
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
The Queensland Government partners in the Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program with First Nation communities. The purpose of this program is to undertake conservation activities on land and sea country to protect ecosystems and cultural heritage, provide employment and training and engage future generations. This program has been in operation since 2007 and has an annual budget of over $12 million. Over 100 Indigenous land and sea rangers are employed through grants provided to 24 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. In 2021 the program will grow with an additional 50 rangers positions being made available to Indigenous communities to apply for.
Annual workplans are in place for each ranger program, with the majority of these involving feral pig management together with biodiversity monitoring, conservation, cultural site and fire management, community engagement activities and feral animal and pest plant control. Where possible, other investors are encouraged to partner and sponsor support Indigenous ranger groups.
An annual pictorial summary of outcomes from the program is provided annually to ranger groups, drawing upon data reported to government biannually. Since the commencement of the program, over 130,000 feral animals (mainly pigs) have been removed. Skills training for rangers is conducted to support them in their management activities, many rangers undertake a certificate III in Conservation and Land Management.
Looking after Country Grants of up to $75,000 are also available to support Indigenous groups to undertake projects to care for country and culture. Details of successful recipients can be found here. A Junior Ranger program is also supported involving Indigenous rangers educating young people about natural resource and cultural management and the importance of caring for country.
Location: Burdekin, Queensland
Collaboration: Lower Burdekin Water, Burdekin Shire Council, Lower Burdekin Landcare, Burdekin Shire River Improvements Trust (BSRIT), Burdekin Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee (BBIFMAC), Gudjuda Reference Group.
The Burdekin catchment is the largest contributor of fine sediment to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Much of this is caused by erosion from grazing lands and stream banks entering the Burdekin River, where it is either deposited in the channel, on the floodplain, or transported out to sea. Fine sediment is a problem because it makes water turbid, reducing the amount of light that seagrasses and corals need to grow and thrive.
This project aims to reduce the impacts of fine sediment on water quality from the Burdekin catchment by:
Location: Burdekin Dry Tropics Region, North Queensland
Burdekin Shire Council have operated a feral animal program for many years, including baiting, trapping and shooting of feral pigs. A multi-faceted approach is taken for managing feral pigs in the Burdekin’s diverse landscapes.
Burdekin region is home to a plentiful water supply from the Burdekin and Haughton Rivers, creeks, channels, and a large aquifer. It is also known as the largest sugar growing area in Australia. The abundant water provides irrigation to many industries including grazing, fruit, pulse and vegetable crop production, but mainly sustains large areas of flood irrigated sugar cane crops. Environmentally, the Burdekin has many unique fresh and saltwater wetlands, a RAMSAR listed wetland, mangroves, rainforests, modified waterways for irrigation flow, large river and creek systems, savanna, forests, woodlands, national parks, beaches, and rangelands. These landscapes are ideal for feral pigs to live, feed and breed in.
Aerial shooting has been conducted as part of their integrated control program since 2013. Data collected from 2016 – 2021 shows 2431 pigs have been culled through Burdekin Shire Council aerial shooting programs. Aerial shooting is a vital tool to manage feral pig populations especially in remote areas. Funding is provided by the Council and external funding from NQ Dry Tropics.
Council has 13 traps which are loaned to landholders with mixed success.
Baiting with 1080 for feral pigs is quite effective and council provides this free service year-round, as requested by landholders. 2816 kg of either fruit or grain have been used as a medium for 1080 baiting from 2017 – 2020.
Our goal is to work more collaboratively with landholders, bordering shire councils, industry groups, state government departments and NRM groups to target and manage feral pig populations in the Burdekin region.
Location: Cairns, Queensland
The Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (FNQROC) is comprised of 13 Councils from Ingham north to Cooktown and west to Croydon in Far North Queensland. The FNQROC has a long-established role in the support and delivery of local and regional natural asset management outcomes and works closely with member councils in the development and delivery of their biosecurity plans and programs. The FNQROC strongly advocates and supports a regional approach on priority issues across our member councils and partners.
Feral pigs are one of the most significant pest animal issues in the FNQ region. The councils and stakeholders’ key areas of focus and expertise include coordinated control programs; 1080 pesticide use and risk management; and, protection of natural assets and community engagement.
Location: Cairns, Queensland
The Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) is a multidisciplinary program under the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. NAQS utilises a risk-based approach to conduct surveillance for exotic animal pests and diseases across northern Australia. With offices in Cairns, Darwin and Broome, NAQS works with a wide network of stakeholders including the northern jurisdictions’ Departments of Primary Industries/Biosecurity, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander rangers, research institutes and primary producers, to keep a TopWatch! for the north of Australia.
As part of their surveillance program, NAQS conducts feral animal surveys across northern Australia, using low-level aerial operations to observe and destructively sample a range of feral animal species. Post mortems are conducted on euthanised animals, and blood samples routinely collected for exotic disease exclusion testing. Any unusual findings receive a full disease investigation with additional diagnostic testing. NAQS also conducts ad hoc disease investigations in animals in response to reports from key stakeholders, such as Indigenous ranger groups. Of the feral animal species present in the north of Australia, the largest proportion of species sampled and tested by NAQS are feral pigs – this is due to their relative abundance and capability to be suitable hosts for a number of exotic animal diseases including foot-and-mouth disease, surra (Trypanosoma evansi) and African swine fever.
NAQS has a long history of collaborating with researchers, and is currently collaborating with Charles Darwin University to improve feral pig surveillance in northern Australia using population genetics and drones.
NAQS Animal Health Surveillance team includes 6 full-time veterinarians and 1 surveillance officer, supported by field operations officers and community liaison officers.
In Queensland, NAQS has 2 vets (both based in Cairns) and typically conducts 6-8 feral animal surveys each year.
Location: Cape York, Queensland
Location: Cape York, Queensland
In Cape York, managers at Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Piccaninny Plains property are proficient and accredited to undertake aerial shooting to control pigs. The population on the property has been substantially reduced over a number of years of consistent removal effort. Regular pressure on the population is delivering measurable improvements and reducing the impacts from feral pigs; for example wetland condition has improved. AWC managers also coordinate ground shooters to go out onto the properties. AWC empowers local managers with decision making and application of control approaches to be used.
AWC explores the development and use of alternate baits that reduce secondary or non-target impacts while targeting feral pigs. The population on the property has been substantially reduced but as this is not being done as a coordinated activity involving their neighbours (cattle properties and indigenous neighbours); it is never-ending due to the formation of a vacuum. Regular pressure on the population is delivering improvements in impacts from feral pigs; the number of nesting birds re-establishing on AWC’s properties has been increasing.
AWC also coordinate ground shooters to go out onto the properties. AWC empower local managers with decision making on control approaches to be used. As some managers are concerned about dingoes and secondary impacts from 1080 baiting, AWC explore the development and use of alternate baits that can’t be taken by dingoes to manage feral pigs, including the use of HOGGONE.
Location: Cape York, Queensland
The Cape York Land Council and Balkanu operate as sister organisations. Balkanu has worked to:
• identify commercial opportunities to assist with funding pig control – the Feraliser project at Coen to add value to the control activities was part of this (CSIRO).
• explore development of a carbon methodology for wetlands (damage etc) to enable more sustained funding for feral pig control (CSIRO).
Opportunities for sustainable indigenous ranger programs and roles that are meaningful, valuable and engaging continue to be sought.
Location: Cape York, Queensland
Location: Cape York, Queensland
The Western Cape Turtle Threat Abatement Alliance (WCTTAA) is a partnership of land and sea owners, managers and rangers from Northern Peninsula Area, Mapoon, Napranum, Pormpuraaw and Kowanyama who are focussed on efficiently managing threats to coastal habitats to protect marine turtle populations on the west coast of Cape York from the Mitchell River to Pajinka.
The Western Cape Turtle Threat Abatement Alliance is supported by Cape York Natural Resource Management (NRM). The Alliance was formally established in May 2013 to set priorities, seek solutions and share knowledge to maximise the use of resources for coastal management on western Cape York. This work has involved pursuing funding, undertaking regional coordination of marine turtle work programs, training, data collection and analysis, and utilisation of local expertise. This project was funded by the Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program, a joint initiative of the Australian and Queensland Governments. Federal and state ranger programs provide the base-level funding for Rangers’ employment and operation.
Feral pigs are recognised as a major threat on the western coast of Cape York to nesting marine turtle populations. These include the endangered Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) and vulnerable flatback turtle (Natator depressus). Each year, substantial efforts to control predators of nesting sites are undertaken – feral pigs, dogs and goannas being the main predatory species. Indigenous rangers manage each of the target beaches during peak turtle nesting season to control feral pig numbers.
Aerial shooting, ground culling (and trapping), nest protection and nest monitoring are all undertaken to manage the threat of feral pigs on the native turtle population. Predator control programs have had an immediate and dramatic reduction on the predation levels of marine turtle nests recorded along western Cape York. The management strategy adopted by WCTTAA since 2013 has been to continually assess and adapt predator control activities that are as cost-effective as possible to build on results from the previous year.
During the 2019 nesting season, a 12% predation rate was achieved across the marine turtle nests being monitored by WCTTAA groups where predation rates by pigs had been estimated at being greater than 90% prior to intensive control efforts. The maximum allowable clutch loss required for population sustainability is 30%. The presence of rangers on the beach and installation of nest protection cages contributed to this reduction in predation. The consistent and frequent aerial culling of feral pigs was also considered a key factor in increased hatchings. No additional funding has been secured to support this program from July 2021.
The ongoing removal of feral pigs from coastal ecosystems benefits biodiversity, ecosystem function, Indigenous cultural values and agricultural productivity.
Location: Cape York, Queensland
Cook Shire Council has annual baiting programs in place however requests for wild dog baits are substantially higher than that for feral pigs. The Council undertakes activities to support feral animal management by landholders to manage the population as well as reduce risks associated with African swine fever entry into Australia.
Although NAQS conducts coastal surveillance of feral pigs as part of its activities, the Council has not assessed inland pig populations using transects for many years due to lack of resources. The Council uses ESRI – GIS software, which operates via a licence, to overlay different data over land mass e.g., topography, sites, etc. The Council also coordinates the 1080 baiting program.
Genetics – Charles Darwin University & Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy
Location: Cape York, Queensland
In the Northern Territory, work was undertaken by Charles Darwin University over a two-year period to determine whether feral pigs that are geographically close are also genetically related. Samples collected by the Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) as part of their ongoing surveillance program as well as from hunters across the Northern Territory were used. A number of distinct pig metapopulations were identified, with clearly defined boundaries, with other populations shown to be closely related (indicating significant movements of pigs between populations).
A new project funded by the Biosecurity Innovation Fund to extend this into northern Western Australia, the Gulf region and Cape York Peninsula to obtain richer information on population dynamics in Northern Australia. Firstly, a comprehensive genetic database will be developed, including the location and spatial distribution of feral meta-population structures, to enable the matching of individual pigs to their respective genetic metapopulation. The second component of this project involving proof-of-concept use of remote sensing and deep learning aims to evaluate the performance of thermal imagery and other remote sensing technologies has not been well tested in northern tropical landscapes and will be implemented within a controlled area in the Northern Territory. This project may enable changes to existing surveillance processes that are undertaken as well as be extended to indigenous ranger networks who collaborate with NAQS to conduct passive surveillance and monitoring. This project is due to be completed by June 2021, with $297,000 of grant funding provided by DAWE.
Location: Cape York, Queensland
In Cape York, without pest management activities being undertaken, the biodiversity and environmental value of wetlands would be severely degraded. Damage in wetlands by feral pigs distress traditional owners. GPS data, track logs and records of every pig shot are analysed to predict priority areas across years/seasons. Comprehensive data sets have been provided to CSIRO for modelling purposes. Control activities undertaken, including aerial shooting, aerial baiting, ground baiting, trapping and ground shooting are applied at a nil tenure, landscape scale basis. Around 50% of lands managed by QPWS in the region are traditionally owned. Typically, aerial shooting activities measure pigs dispatched per hour (and total); outcomes are not reported in terms of impact reduction. Trapping is less effective as a landscape scale tool as traps require daily checking and many areas are inaccessible by vehicle. Remotely sensored traps are being trialled by private operators and if effective, this will make trapping a more attractive option. Support for broad, landscape scale feral pig baiting using 1080 is diminishing by indigenous communities, but 1080 may be being used on pastoral lands and to protect important cultural sites.
Location: Cape York, Queensland
QPWS participated as a partner in the joint Commonwealth and Queensland Government program Australian Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program to reduce the threats posed by feral pigs and other predator species on the predation of marine turtle nests. From 2014 to 2020, funds of up to $3.5 million were committed by the Queensland Government to this program, which were matched by the Commonwealth. In North Queensland, feral pig control activities targeted green, hawksbill, olive ridley and flatback turtle rookeries on Eastern and Western Cape York Peninsula and in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Location: Cape York, Queensland
The South Endeavour Trust owns four properties of around 100,000 hectares in size in the Normanby and Annan River catchments near Cooktown on Cape York including Kings Plains, Alkoomie, Caloola and South Endeavour. These properties were purchased for conservation and have largely been destocked of cattle.
Land management programs include rehabilitation and stabilisation of erosion prone areas, fire management to mitigate threats from wildfires, weed control, and an integrated program of feral animal management.
Feral pig control has been conducted using shooting, baiting and trapping when time and resources permitted. In the dry season of 2018, Australian Wildlife Management Solutions (AWMS) were contracted to carry out aerial shooting across the four properties, aligned with contract mustering for destocking cattle. In early 2019, ground and aerial work was combined to achieve an integrated approach in effectively managing feral pigs.
A program of intensive and sustained ground shooting conducted at night and during the day, trapping and detection pigs, combined with aerial shooting in the more open country working in combination with the ground crew improved the wetland condition and reduced pig numbers. The goal of this program is to reduce the pig population to a manageable level.
Five aerial shoots averaging 4 hours in duration (90 hours in total) were conducted from July 2018 to March 2020. A total of 309 pigs were dispatched (from a total of 478 animals) at an average cost of $25.80/pig. Flight paths and GPS positions of animals dispatched were mapped and recorded. Numbers dispatched by aerial shooting reduced from 74 pigs in November 2018 to only 6 pigs in March 2020, reflecting total effort from this work on reducing pig abundance.
Ground shooting and trapping from May 2019 totalled 546 hours with a total of 93 pigs dispatched, from a total of 259 animals, at an average cost of $21.16/pig. Ground control was conducted, as gallery forest areas along the Normanby River provide sheltered and safe breeding grounds for pigs. Seasonal conditions for access during the wet season were more constrained on the ground than from the air. In March 2020, minimal pig diggings and disturbance was observed by the helicopter crew. HOGGONE is now being looked at by land managers as another control option.
Location: Central Cape York, Queensland
National Environmental Science Program, Northern Hub project exploring the development of metrics of success for feral animal management in northern Australia.
Indigenous groups have raised concerns about the damage feral animals inflict on rivers, wetlands and estuaries. Turtles, water lilies, and crocodile eggs are among the traditional resources being impacted. Adding to the complexity of this problem is the desire from Traditional Owners to preserve populations of feral pigs and buffalo as a readily available source of meat for remote communities. Millions of dollars have been and continue to be invested in feral animal management programs. This research seeks to link such management activities with quantified, long term outcomes for environmental and cultural assets. In doing so it will define indicators of success in feral animal management that are applicable to other parts of northern Australia.
This research is exploring the extent of the damage being caused by feral animals to aquatic ecosystems and the methods to best control them. The researchers are working with Indigenous ranger groups, local communities and agencies to achieve this goal. By ensuring that all key management groups are involved in the project, the researchers aim to foster a shared understanding of the most effective and efficient ways to manage feral animals to deliver joint social, environmental and cultural benefits. This project builds on and works alongside state and federal funding programs that have been awarded to Indigenous groups Balkanu, Aak Puul Ngantam and Kalan Enterprises over the past five years to control feral animals in Cape York’s Archer River Basin. With support from Balkanu and funding awarded through the Australian Government’s Biodiversity Fund, Kalan and APN rangers installed pig exclusion fencing around key wetlands and compared the results to unfenced sites.
This NESP project adds value to the continued management of feral pigs by ranger groups by providing a very high standard of scientific support. The NESP team is working closely with APN and Kalan to develop a joint understanding of what works and what doesn’t in both the feral animal management and monitoring and evaluation space. This is providing important information that will help design relevant monitoring methods and reporting frameworks that can be shared with other land managers across northern Australia.
Location: Central Queensland, Queensland
Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA) services the Fitzroy Region which covers a land area of more than 156,000 square kilometres, with offices in Rockhampton, Gladstone, Emerald and Theodore. Through the Queensland Feral Pest Initiative Round 3 (QFPI3) funding FBA has been working with landholders and other stakeholders to encourage coordinated neighbourhood feral pig control programs. Community engagement and education are among the key focusses of the program.
FBA engage landholders, mining companies and national parks to coordinate bi-annual aerial pigs shoots. As of December 2020, over 400,000 hectares has been covered with over 800 pigs dispatched. Several webinars and workshops have been held throughout the QFPI3 program, including workshops with Dr Jim Mitchell, webinars with Animal Control Technologies Australia, Biosecurity Queensland and Ballistic Training Solutions. FBA is dedicated to keeping landholders, stakeholders and funders up to date with emerging technologies and control methods to reduce the number of feral pigs in the Fitzroy region.
An example of this is the pest control group at Rolleston, Queensland who have been trialling HOGGONE bait and bait stations. The use of 1080 is being affected by the amalgamation of councils and less resources available to prepare grain or meat baits for landholders – particularly for landholders in the Western region of the FBA’s area. Landholders have monitored feral pig activity to strategically place HOGGONE bait stations in high traffic areas. There have been some good results already and this study will be a source of practical information to other landholders in the Fitzroy region.
FBA are also working to develop a network of new, accredited providers (as per Certificate III and IV qualifications) and link them with mentors who operate established businesses and can teach them moral and ethical business practices.
Outside of the QFPI3 program, FBA conducts a range of activities to reduce the impact of feral pigs in the Fitzroy region. If you are a landholder in the Fitzroy region seeking help with feral animals, contact FBA to organise free one-on-one property visit with a technical officer – 07 4999 2800 or www.fba.org.au
Dirranbandi Landcare – aerial control of feral pigs
Location: Dirranbandi, Queensland
Dirranbandi Landcare recognized there was an opportunity to target reduced numbers of feral pigs concentrated on the remaining water holes along the river systems in the region during the extended drought. Funds from the Community Environment Program 2019 were used for two, two-day helicopter shoots, in February and again in October 2020, following good rains when chickpeas were maturing.
In the Lower Balonne Floodplain, 39 landholders (approximately 60%) participated in the program which covered an area of over 500,000ha. Those landholders who did not participate in this program regularly carry out their own feral pig control programs. All participants were asked to continue with their regular control programmes, including baiting, trapping and hunting, as feral pig numbers will inevitably increase over time given good seasons and river flows.
The success of this project and ease of implementation will result in increased participation by landholders if the opportunity arises in the future, such as the DAF Queensland’s African Swine Fever Prevention & Preparedness Project.
Our Landcare group is currently seeking funding for future targeted helicopter shoots.
Pest Group Coordinated Shoot
Location: Darling Downs – Maranoa, Queensland
An aerial shooting program for feral pigs, that involves 250 landholders across a land area of 200,000 hectares in the Western Downs region of Queensland, is voluntarily coordinated by a local landholder. Enterprises in this area include irrigated and dryland cropping, grazing, intensive livestock, state forests and national parks, coal seam gas and coal mine operations.
This program has been operating for 3.5 years, with aerial shoots conducted in December 2020 found to be most effective in terms of pig numbers dispatched. Control programs that are regularly conducted (involving combinations of 1080 baiting, trapping and yearly aerial shooting) have resulted in less feral pigs damage to agricultural production and the natural environment. This coordination with other landholders is primarily done via text messaging to obtain information about pig sightings and the need to conduct an aerial shoot.
Location: Dry Tropics, Queensland
NQ Dry Tropics co-ordinate the Regional Pest Management Group (RPMG) which meets quarterly with a forum used to attract government grants, share information, prioritise activities and determine where/who to invest funds across the region. Organisations involved include Barcaldine Regional Council (BRC), Burdekin Shire Council, Charters Towers Regional Council, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Isaac Regional Council, NQ Dry Tropics, Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council, Townsville City Council, Whitsunday Regional Council, Flinders Shire Council, Biosecurity Queensland, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Queensland, Department of Transport and Main Roads, Regional Landcare groups, Regional Traditional Owner Groups.
A new Regional Pest Management Strategy will be delivered in coming months. Their feral pig program, involving aerial shooting, commenced in 2011-12 with support from an Australian Government grant. Consistent investment in feral pig management via the RPMG has occurred since this time, with much of this supported by NQ Dry Tropics funding.
From 2019-20 onwards, NQ Dry Tropics’ investment in feral pig control will be significantly reduced as a result of changes in Government funding cycles and priorities. Feral pig management will however continue to be a significant focus of the RPMG.
Whitsunday Regional Council are considered one of the leaders of feral pig management in the Burdekin Dry Tropics region, where landholder syndicates continue to support management intervention and data gathering (infrastructure damage, yield loss, disease impacts).
Location: Fraser Coast, Queensland
Feral pig numbers in the area are increasing, with the sugar cane industry most affected. Syndicates of landholders in the Western region of the Council’s area are involved in baiting activities, and are communicating well to strategically place meat baits for feral pigs and wild dogs.
A baiting program is managed by the Council, with two scheduled activities held (April-May and Aug-Sept) at a budgeted cost of $6000 per activity (includes purchase of pre-feed, grain and/or meat). If additional baiting is required, landholders supply bait material for mixing with 1080. A total of 45-50 landholders participate in each activity. Surplus funds are put towards the purchase of traps that are then loaned to landholders, on request.
If you require additional information contact at: Col.Zemek@frasercoast.qld.gov.au
Location: Hinchinbrook, Queensland
The Herbert River district produces around 5 million tonnes of sugar cane per year (with the total Australian production estimated at 30-35MT per annum). This multi-stakeholder funded, community-based feral pig control program has been operating since 2009, with an annual budget of approximately $140,000. Funds are contributed by the sugarcane and forestry Industry, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Queensland Government (for coastal national park and unallocated land), HQ Plantations and currently Greening Australia as part of their project. Concerns over program longevity are increasing as access to funding by partners is always a challenge and often funding for activities such as aerial shooting is sought from grants.
Based on annual yield data, the cane industry in the region were losing approx. $1.2 m of revenue per year due to feral pig damage. Losses have now been reduced to ~$200,000-250,000 per year through the implementation of a coordinated and integrated approach to feral pig control. These losses do not include cost savings in infrastructure (including drainage), land degradation issues and costs associated with re-laser levelling of cane fields.
Methods being used include ground baiting (60%) using bananas as a carrier for 1080 (with mangoes and pineapples also used) followed by trapping and aerial shooting. Certain varieties of cane are also grown by some producers to actively attract feral pigs at certain times of the year where controls can be targeted. Cameras are used to assist with management of diversely located trapping sites. The program has also assisted the Nest to Ocean project (DAWE and Queensland Government) for the protection of green and flatback turtles nesting sites, which supported a two-year aerial shooting program along the coastal margins. Now thermal imaging cameras are being used to help identify animals hiding in long wetland vegetation and to estimate the population.
The Hinchinbrook Community Feral Pig Management Program has also been involved in genetic works to identify population dynamics and movement within the landscape, this work has been invaluable in both developing strategic plans and informing on ground activities to improve efficiency.
Biosecurity-QLD (BQ) are undertaking work to maintain permits from APVMA for the continued use of 1080 concentrate in fruit baits, as grain, meat and other alternatives have proven to be ineffective and higher risk to off-target species in FNQ. The HCFPMP members have worked closely with BQ to generate more data to inform the APVMA permit application, and are trialling sodium nitrate as a potential alternative.
Location: Innisfail, Queensland
IBCPS work across Cairns Regional Council and Cassowary Coast Regional Council (CCRC) areas. The feral pig program operating through IBCPS was initiated in 2016 when cane growers identified an issue with lost productivity based on survey data. The program is funded exclusively by local cane growers and supports a full time position who provides grower education on feral pig management and general agronomy extension services. Funding has been committed until June 2021.
This program is focussed on developing grower capability and capacity to implement management strategies and build knowledge and understanding of what needs to be done. Over 100 cane growers are involved in undertaking control programs, primarily 1080 baiting using bananas, but many are working independently rather than as a group. Cameras are used to identify movements to key locations and individual growers are dealing with pig control. Success of the program is being determined by grower implementation of feral pig control strategies on farm and impacts on tonnes damage and costs to control. Reports are provided by IBCPS to their growers of pest damage in cane over a twelve month period.
Location: Innisfail, Queensland
Integrated feral pig management has been a high priority for Terrain NRM for many years, with pooling of resources from agricultural sector, national parks and local government to provide a consistent approach to control activities over a five year period. Funding from Terrain NRM was expended two years ago.
Studies conducted as part of this work identified that feral pigs do not all migrate from rainforest areas to agricultural sources; some mobs live entirely in rainforest areas, others in agricultural areas only and other groups on the fringe between rainforest and agricultural areas.
Terrain NRM are involved in the Panama Disease tropical race 4 response activities in the Tully Valley. Exclusion fencing is being used by some landholders who have had significant crop losses over time. In the region, the suitability and appropriateness of different control methods at a landscape scale is made as part of the planning as to which methods will be utilised to control pigs in particular areas.
Location: Ipswich, Queensland
Seqwater manage 72,000ha of land, with 60% of this being leased land under primary production. Issues with landholder compliance with the Biosecurity Act 2014 are being experienced, particularly on lands that are under long term leases. Old dams have been removed by Seqwater to encourage feral pigs into gully lines. Impacts from feral pigs experienced by Seqwater include water quality, turbidity, erosion/damage to dam banks and concerns of zoonotic diseases contaminating water. Exclusion fencing is also being investigated that would be designed to drive pigs into a corralling area.
Seqwater operate in partnership with QPWS where their lands border those of Seqwater. Seqwater’s biosecurity team manage some 75000 ha for the safe and controlled storage of raw water for Southeast Queensland, which encompasses land and water resources from Gympie to the border and as west as Toowoomba. These catchments vary from having 60% of the water source’s boundary being leased for primary production. Some are bounded by National Parks and others have rural residential and peri-urban interfaces.
With these massive variations in adjacent land uses, each catchment may have differing approaches to feral pest animal control. The controlled use of pesticides are crucial in these environments with a number of sites having to exclude these poisons due to location and interface issues.
Seqwater actively undertake pest animal programs for: Red, Fallow and Rusa deer; Feral pig; Wild dog and foxes; Rabbit, and the management of noxious fish species being transferred into our impoundments through our fish ladders.
Issues from feral pigs experienced by Seqwater include Reduction in water quality; Increased turbidity; Increased erosion/damage to dam banks due to their activity; concerns of zoonotic diseases contaminating water.
Control methods used for feral pigs which are mainly used: Fixed traps / feed stations on main corridors; Mobile trap and feed stations to target areas of high activity; Field shooting in areas with a controlled shooting plan in place; Use of 1080 and sodium nitrate baits in controlled situations.
Illegal access and hunting activities hinder our operations even in peri-urban interfaces as these can; Cause dispersal of pigs with hunters using dogs (can end a pest program immediately; cause further spread of the pest throughout a catchment); Immediately stop operations when a third party has access a site and their safety cannot be assured, costing time and money.
Exclusion fencing is also being investigated that would be designed to drive pigs into a corralling area; The design and manufacture of multi-purpose traps both fixed and mobile; The design and manufacture of feed stations; Use of cameras for activation and survey of trap sites.
Location: Longreach, Queensland
Desert Channels NRM are completely reliant on external funding for feral pig control activity. Previously, a long term, eight-year aerial shooting program (three years initially and for a further five years) operated in conjunction with Arid Lands NRM, SA which dispatched 38000 pigs. Desert Channels NRM provide bullets free of charge and fuel for helicopters to undertake feral pig control programs, which is taken up (which covers the Bulloo, Barcoo, Diamantina, Quilpie Shires). Disaster Recovery Funds are being used to support ground and aerial control activities (baiting and shooting) in Winton and Flinders Shires. DCQ also maintains 50 monitoring sites across the region to obtain index of abundance data.
Location: Mackay, Queensland
There are two key areas within this region that Reef Catchments is involved with the management of feral pigs: Gregory River Proserpine (through extending and supporting Whitsunday Regional Council’s activities) and Rocky Dam Creek Catchment, south of Mackay (managed in association with Sarina Landcare Catchment Management Association), and extending south to Carmila and Clairview.
In summary, between Rocky Dam Catchment and Gregory River, 685 pigs have been culled from wetlands between 2019 and 2020. Feral pigs are one of the highest priority pests under the Mackay Regional Pest Management Plan and threaten the local ecosystem through habitat degradation, direct predation, soil degradation and native vegetation disturbance. Reef Catchments NRM annually monitor the Rocky Dam Creek and Gregory River area to capture disturbance from pigs.
Maryborough Cane Productivity Services (MCPS)
Location: Maryborough, Queensland
Feral pig infestations have worsened over the past 12 months in the area serviced by MCPS. Management methods that are available are limited due to the industry’s peri-urban location in Maryborough. Ecological knowledge is required to better understand regionally where pigs are moving to and their preferred food source.
Considerable effort has been made in community engagement and education of landholders on best practice management techniques, including that free-feeding is being done correctly. An Action Plan was developed with support from Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils and the University of Southern Queensland.
HOGGONE is being trialled as an alternative to 1080 baiting due to proximity of farms to residential areas. Fermented soy bean is being trialled as the free-feeding bait, prior to the use of the placebo and toxic HOGGONE baits.
National Feral Pig Action Plan
Location: Moonie, Queensland
Many organisations and community led groups are evaluating HOGGONE to determine its effectiveness and suitability for inclusion into integrated feral pig management strategies that are being applied locally. These groups include Maryborough Cane Productivity Services QLD, Barron Catchment Care QLD, Fitzroy Basin Association QLD, Parks Victoria, Southern Gulf NRM QLD, Lower Blackwood RBG WA, Leschenhault Biosecurity Group WA and Lake Muir Denbarker Feral Pig Eradication Group. Recommendations for use as supplied by Animal Control Technologies Australia (ACTA) have been provided to support HOGGONE®’s use.
Location: Mount Isa, Queensland
Feral pig numbers are high, particularly in the lower Gulf where they come out of forest country into Gulf Plains grasslands. Southern Gulf NRM has not conducted surveys of feral pig numbers. Environmental damage is largely pig rooting leading to land degradation around natural watercourses and predation on turtle egg-depositing sites.
Funding has been provided to Local Government and to Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation by Southern Gulf NRM to support their feral pig control activities. Cloncurry Shire, McKinlay Shire and Richmond Shire are undertaking aerial and ground feral pig control activities through Disaster Recovery funding from Southern Gulf NRM – $50,000 each over two years (2020 and 2021).
Flinders Shire (through Desert Channels Queensland), and Carpentaria Shire (through Northern Gulf Resource Management Group) have been funded to undertake feral pig control activities in 2020 and 2021.
Location: Mulgumpin (Moreton Island), Queensland
Healthy Land and Water is providing support to enable QYAC to lead Pig Control activities on Mulgumpin while considering cultural landscape values and Traditional Owner aspirations for Country.
Quandamooka Traditional Owners – through the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) – in partnership with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) have been delivering the Pig Control on Quandamooka Country Program.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has been conducting pig control activities on Mulgumpin since 2000, but more recently QPWS rangers have been utilising a range of techniques to reduce the pig population including remotely controlled traps, live cameras and automated feeders.
The program is being rolled out across more than 600 hectares of Quandamooka Country to reduce and manage Mulgumpin’s feral pig population.
First recorded in Queensland in around 1865, feral pigs have been present on Mulgumpin for over 100 years.
Location: North Lakes Brisbane, Queensland
HQPlantations sustainably manages 320,000 hectares of pine plantations and native forest buffers in Queensland, with the timber mostly used for domestic construction. Feral pigs utilise the forest landscape as an environment to hide, shelter and access neighbouring food sources (e.g. banana and sugarcane crops), however, generally don’t interfere with timber production. HQPlantations is an active participant in local landholder programs, fostering effective relationships and demonstrating good neighbour principles.
In south east and central Queensland, annual baiting programs for wild dogs and feral pigs are conducted via coordinated council-led baiting syndicates. HQPlantations must carefully manage baiting programs taking into consideration recreational public, neighbour, and grazing and apiary permit holders risks and concerns around secondary poisoning. Potential use of HOGGONE to quell risks from regurgitating 1080 baits, poisoning of non-target animals and reduced risks of secondary poisoning are being explored. HQPlantations participates in aerial culling programs that are conducted from time to time in areas where this method does not present risks to the public or communities. These programs are managed and coordinated through organisations such as Fitzroy Basin Association.
In North Queensland, HQPlantations also participates in locally coordinated activities including baiting, landholder notifications and signage.
HQPlantations does not undertake mobile ground shooting, however, trapping may be conducted when it is considered appropriate for small number of localised pigs.
Location: Northern Gulf, Queensland
The Northern Gulf Resource Management Group support landholders in feral animal management, and integrate feral pig control activities into other programs such as those addressing water quality and sustainable agriculture. The feral pig work that is conducted is limited and localised, subject to the availability of funding.
In association with flood recovery in Carpentaria Shire, a short-term aerial shooting program over 460,000 ha was coordinated by Northern Gulf (Oct-Nov 2019 and August 2020), funded by the Department of Environment and Science through the Disaster Relief Funding Arrangements.
Northern Gulf also coordinates annual pig control activities in conjunction with the Gulf Rivers Riparian Improvement Program (2018-2022), funded by the Queensland Government through the Natural Resources Investment Program. This program supports locally coordinated aerial pig control as a component of an integrated program to improve the quality and extent of native vegetation and reduce sedimentation in rivers flowing to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Participating landholders co-contribute to fund the on-ground activities undertaken through this program.
National Feral Pig Action Plan
Location: Northern Queensland, Queensland
The Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy was established in 1989 to provide an early warning system for exotic pest, weed and disease detections across northern Australia and to help address unique biosecurity risks facing the region. With over 10,000 kms of coastline, inlets and islands, northern Australia is vast and remote and vulnerable to exotic pest, weed and disease arrivals from countries to Australia’s north.
Location: Pittsworth, Queensland
Since 2014, landholders in the Felton Valley area have worked together in a coordinated way to control of feral pigs. A range of methods including baiting, trapping and helicopter control events have been used. This work was initially privately funded by landholders. Through a partnership with Cambooya Landcare Association, government funds have been secured to assist with the management program.
The current program is funded by the Queensland Government through the Community Sustainability Action Grants Program. Four coordinated helicopter events were conducted between July 2018 and September 2020. The first three events were 12th September 2018, 28th May 2019, 23rd March 2020, and the fourth and most recent event took place on the 26th August 2020. During this period, in excess of 285 feral pigs have been culled by the helicopter control events.
The final aerial culling event in August 2020 involved a flight time of 5-6 hours covering over 35,000 hectares. During this time, surveillance of some of the previous ‘hotspots’ occurred to observe signs of feral pig activity and follow these up. A total of 115 landholders were contacted about being involved.
The Felton area supports a range of agricultural industries including grain and pulse cropping, grazing, irrigated horticulture, dairying, thoroughbred breeding, poultry and egg production, pork enterprises and beef cattle feedlots. It also includes landscapes with high biodiversity and ecological values as well as lifestyle properties. Feral pigs can impact upon all of these industries, lifestyles and natural assets. As there are piggeries in the Felton area, the management of the feral pig population to reduce the risk of any incidence of African swine fever locally is very important.
Discussions are being held with Southern Queensland Landscapes regarding the future of this program including:
Location: Sarina, Queensland
Feral pigs are one of the highest priority pests under the Mackay Regional Pest Management Plan and State legislation. The Coordinated Feral Pig Control Program includes the Rocky Dam Creek and Carmila Catchments (51,840ha and 12,730ha, respectively) as well as the Clairview area. These catchments contain significant areas of agricultural land including highly productive sugar cane production and grazing as well as important wetlands, natural areas and National Parks, providing recreational and ecological services.
Sarina Landcare Catchment Management Association Inc (SLCMA) works in partnership stakeholders including Plane Creek Productivity Services DNRM, Mackay Regional Council and Reef Catchments; to facilitate the program which encourages an integrated approach to feral pig control including trapping, baiting and aerial shooting.
The annual aerial feral pig control event is coordinated by SLCMA on behalf of over 50 private landholders and stakeholders who contribute financially to the event. The event has been running since 2008 and has controlled over 1300 feral pigs. Landholders have reported a noticeable decrease in damage to cropping and grazing land, as well as natural areas such as mangroves and wetlands. Those involved agree that the sustained pressure through the ongoing aerial control in conjunction with other control methods throughout the year is essential to keep the pig numbers and damage to a minimum.
Location: Somerset, Queensland
Their bounty program commenced in February 2020, with $10 being paid for each tail and snout to rate payers in the Somerset area (lot plan numbers must be provided). The program will continue for an unspecified duration in response to African swine fever threats to the Australian pork industry.
Somerset Regional Council recognises feral pigs pose a threat to economic, environmental and social values throughout the region. To assist landholders, Council has a bounty program that provides support to landholders and pest controllers that undertake control of these pest species within the region.
National Feral Pig Action Plan
Location: Southern Queensland, Queensland
A study is being conducted by SQ Landscapes involving 150 GPS collared pigs across eight landscapes to improve understanding of feral pig ecology and improve management strategies to reduce pig damage in the landscape. This work is being conducted in partnership with land managers from four communities, as well as organisational stakeholders including as Northern Tablelands and North West Local Land Services, NSW National Parks and Wildlife, Arrow Energy, Santos GLNG and Southern Queensland Landscapes. It is expected that this collaring work will provide land managers with information on where feral pigs spend time in the landscape, whose property provides food sources, whose property provides harbour, and the routes that the feral pigs are taking. These data provide information that dispels myths, which are often long entrenched ideas about how far feral pigs travel, where they may live and ultimately who is responsible to control them.
Location: Southern Queensland, Queensland
A PhD program is underway (Darren Marshall, SQ Landscapes) through the Unviersity of new Engalnd and University of Pennsylvania, USA to test an innovative ‘thick’ engagement approach that incorporates intense interactions and involvement with land managers and community members to foster community-led action and strengthen feral pig management at a landscape-scale. This program involves trial sites located in Queensland and New South Wales.
Location: Te Kowai, Queensland
An 18-month community based, collaborative and integrated feral pig management program, co-funded by DAF Queensland ($12,000 grant) and local Munburra canegrowers, was completed in March 2020. In this area, feral pigs impact upon cane production, riparian zones and water quality – causing erosion and damaging drains, gullies, headlands and paddocks.
The funding was used to purchase 6 traps with 2 other traps being made by growers themselves and cameras were shared amongst participating landholders. Trapping is recognised by cane growers to be a useful control method in this area – it can be used all year round, is effective when cane cover is high and can be used in thick vegetation along creeks, at the base of mountains and around urban areas where baiting is prohibited.
Canegrowers whose properties border with National Parks experienced more damage from feral pig activity than others. Frozen mangoes are used as bait to cull large numbers of pigs quickly with relatively low effort and cost. Baiting was carried out at different points in the year. Grain and molasses were also successfully used.
This project achieved a good level of collaboration, cooperation and communication between neighbours. Overall, a total of 27 entities, comprised of 21 growers operating mixed properties (some with horticultural enterprises) over an area of 4700 ha, were involved. As baiting was also conducted, actual numbers of feral pigs removed cannot be determined. A total of 45-50 pigs were removed by trapping.
In total, 3200 tonnes and 1800 tonnes of sugarcane were lost in 2018 and 2019, respectively. This was estimated to be a loss of ~$121,000 in 2018 (based on a sugar cane price of A$38/t) and $68,076 in 2019 (at a cane price of $37.82/t).
National Feral Pig Action Plan
Location: Toowoomba, Queensland
A number of feral pig control activities are being coordinated through SQ Landscapes. This work is primarily focussed on landholder engagement, with GPS collars and cameras being used to engage landholders about feral pig presence, populations and activity at the local level. These programs include Landscape-scale trial with landholders demonstrating the use of HOGGONE® as an alternate control strategy for feral pigs (Moonie region); Coordinated aerial shooting program by Cambooya Landcare. Three programs are conducted per year in this program, supported with external funding; Joint program between NSW DPI Vertebrate Pest Research Unit involving collaring of 30 pigs and 30 dogs in Paroo, NSW and 20 pigs and 20 dogs in Southern Queensland; work is to commence in September 2020; Supporting collaring program with South East LLS in Bungendore area in South East NSW; Joint activity with Northern Tablelands LLS; Coordination of 1080 baiting and ground shooting program – Goondiwindi; Development of standard operating procedures for new remotely operated suspension traps
Location: Townsville, Queensland
CSIRO have completed a DAWE funded project ‘’Enhanced landscape scale management of feral pigs and buffalo in large remote landscapes with new technologies enabling real-time data, modelling and analytics’’. CSIRO partnered with Aak Puul Ngangtam, Bawinanaga Aboriginal Corporation, Kalan Enterprises, and James Cook University (JCU) to develop animal movement and habitat monitoring equipment using emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technology, alongside analytical systems and interactive planning tools to support feral animal management in remote Northern Australia.
The aim of this work was to test the IoT technology’s ability to understand how feral animal’s use of the landscape changes through space and time and integrate this knowledge into planning tools and management options at scales relevant to land managers. In this project, CSIRO and JCU developed and deployed extensive IoT networks, embedded within focus areas, for ongoing feral animal management programs. Over 100 feral animals were captured, collared, and tracked in a diverse array of habitats including rainforest, savanna woodlands, vine thickets and extensive coastal flood plains. A low cost, low power GPS tracking unit was developed by CSIRO to send and receive data through a low power wide area network protocol range (LoRa) communication. GPS tracking devices were deployed on pigs, buffalo and cattle providing a comprehensive data set for critically assessing the performance of the technology across different habitat types and species.
A unique test of the technology was completed by accurately reflecting the challenges of developing low-cost, scalable solutions that are useful for land managers in remote northern Australia. Workshops with the three ranger groups identified important environmental and cultural sites and priority areas for management. Detailed seasonal movement data was then integrated into working management plans that merged the ecological data with local knowledge and values. This work has also been extended to Njanjma Rangers from West Arnhem, NT, in collaboration with Territory Natural Resource Management, where traps were placed under fruiting native fig trees and trapped sows were fitted with tracking collars under tranquilisation. Data obtained is helping the Rangers understand how groups of animals are using the area and provide useful feral animal behaviour information to other groups managing feral pigs in the West Arnhem and Kakadu region.
Location: Townsville, Queensland
Learnings to improve how feral pig populations can be better managed in Northern Australia will be obtained from a new Commonwealth funded $4 million, 3.5-year collaborative project between CSIRO and Charles Darwin University where feral buffalo and cattle will be fitted with satellite GPS-tracking tags and tracked across a combined 22,314 km2 area encompassing the Arafura swamp catchment in Arnhem Land, NT and Cape York Peninsula in a satellite herd-tracking program. This project will also work with the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance Ltd (NAILSMA), Mimal Land Management Aboriginal Corporation, Aak Puul Ngangtam Ltd, and Normanby Land Management.
National Feral Pig Action Plan
Location: Tully Valley, Murray Upper & Bilyana, Queensland
The Panama Disease Tropical Race 4 (TR4) Program (2018-2020) is being supported (cash and in-kind) by Department of Agriculture and Fisheries – Biosecurity QLD/TR4 programme. A grant of $920,000 was provided by Government to this program. Partners involved in this program are: Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) , Canegrowers and Sugar Millers (Tully and Innisfail), National Parks and Sports and Racing (NPSR/QPWS), Department of Natural Resources & Mines (DNRM), Unallocated State Land (USL), Cassowary Coast Regional Council (CCRC), Growcom, Agforce, Terrain NRM, Department of Defence and Far North QLD Regional Organisation of Councils – FNQROC. CCRC also have a Feral Pig Management Strategy in place since 2018 to support this.
The Australian banana industry contributes $600 million annually to the Australian economy. Panama disease, which is not eradicable, was first detected in Tully Valley in 2015. As of September 2020, five properties are now affected. The purpose of this program is to assist with the ongoing management of feral pigs in banana growing areas to reduce the risk of spreading Panama disease Tropical Race 4 by increasing land manager participation in feral pig control activities across all tenures, promoting responsible land management, increasing landholder capability and capacity for reducing pig populations and reducing impacts from feral pigs, including risks of transmission of Panama disease and unlawful pig recreational pig hunting activities. This program is being managed by an executive oversight group and operational working group, with the project coordinator who is based with the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, delivering on ground actions supported by industry extension officers and land management agency coordinators.
This program was initially focussed in the Upper Tully Valley and Upper and Central Murray Valley (initial phase – to 31 May 2019), extending into the remainder of Tully and Murray Valley catchments (second phase – to 31 May 2020) and the full Cassowary Coast Regional Council area (including the Johnstone catchment and then cooperating with neighbouring local government areas). In 2019/20, a total of 67,771 ha of agricultural land was included in the Tully and Murray Catchment areas, with over 21,007 ha actively controlled for feral pigs in the initial focus area and 10,235 ha being actively controlled in the second focus area (not including National Parks). The agricultural land in the initial focus area totals 28,825 ha and the second focus area is 38,946 ha in size. Over 6,000 feral pigs have been controlled by landowners in the Tully and Murray catchments area since July 2017. Aerial shooting has been cost effective as part of an integrated control program, with 2254 feral pigs being killed (conducted over 17,489 ha in initial area and 4295 ha in second focus area). Integrated programs are restricted by quarantine/biosecurity zones due to limitations on movement of people and vehicle access onto properties.
Other key achievements during 2019/20 include
Location: Western Downs Region, Queensland
The evaluation of the success or failure of feral pig management programs typically comes from numbers of pigs dispatched and/or the amount of effort put in. The use of such data, whilst usually easily accessible, to evaluate outcomes of control programs is not useful if knowledge of feral pig populations in the area are unknown and can mislead the evaluation process. This lack of understanding and inability to effectively evaluate pest management programs led to the development and implementation of Western Downs Regional Council’s (WDRC) Vertebrate Pest Monitoring Program in 2014.
This unique and innovative landscape-scale program provides representative data from over 3.6 million hectares in the WRDC region and transfers 100,000 images for automated processing (from an array of 93 cameras per month) to generate pest activity indices in near real-time through the adoption of neural network and machine learning software. The system converts complex raw ecological data into numerical form and graphs this information in real time.
The WDRC is the first local government to establish permanent monitoring sites to benchmark pest animal population activity. The establishment and maintenance of camera monitoring sites throughout the region to determine pre and post-activity population data, coupled with innovative technologies such as machine learning and image classifying, opens up many opportunities for strategic, coordinated and effective pest and natural resource management and increased engagement of land managers.
Machine learning technology automatically reads images and records selected data into a metadata database in near real-time and enables land manager notifications to be established when species of interest are captured on camera. A visual analytics platform displays trend analysis and statistical information that can be easily shared and distributed to management groups, landowners, and WDRC. The ability to quantify pest activity baselines, capture population changes after control events, illustrate long-term trends, predict potential future pest activity and identify hotspots of pest activity throughout the region ensures a more structured, proactive and targeted approach to pest management. As this information can be overlayed with the timing of control activities, improved communication with pest groups and informed strategies for pest animal management are enabled.
The use of this cutting edge technology for vertebrate pest management in the region has improved performance and service delivery through proactive decision making. This program has enabled the WDRC to become more efficient in its approach to data entry and reporting. This feedback is very useful for management groups, as landholders can be notified when pest species (e.g. feral pig or wild dog) are identified on camera, providing the ability for immediate response.
Long term, the capture and analysis of this data will identify pest activity base-lines, represent changes after control events and identify hotspots throughout the region. Through partnerships, strategic planning, coordinated programs and their Vertebrate Pest Monitoring program, WDRC, landholders and partnering organisations are influencing community behaviour and practice by empowering landholders with knowledge and experience to prevent or reduce pest impacts. Industry groups, NRM bodies, state departments and other local governments are seeing these benefits being achieved and wish to partner with the WDRC so that sustainable and positive outcomes can be shared across the broader region.
Location: Wet Tropics – Atherton Tablelands, Queensland
Barron Catchment Care aims to generate and determine landholder interest in future coordinated feral pig management on the Atherton Tablelands. This group obtained $49,998 from Round 3 of the Commonwealth Government’s Smart Farms Small Grants to purchase and fit collars to pigs over a 20 month period, monitor their movement, promote the use of FeralPigScan to map feral pig sightings and crop damage and undertake an economic analysis of feral pig impacts in collaboration with local landholders.
This project is supported by Terrain NRM and Tablelands Regional Council. New Boarbuster (http://www.boarbuster.com/) will be demonstrated to landholders by GPS Trapping. BCC also actively engages with the local indigenous community to protect remnant Mabi forests in Atherton Tablelands (listed as a nationally threatened ecological community under the EPBC Act) from feral pigs, weeds and domestic animals.
Location: Whitsunday, Queensland
The WRC have run a feral animal program since 2006. Aerial shooting has been conducted as part of their integrated control program since 2014. Current activities are focussed on developing and implementing funding models to enable pest management programs to continue without external funding support. Operationally, $20-30,000 per year is provided by the Council, with strong reliance on external funding from local NRM organisations and water catchment authorities.
Aerial shooting is conducted from July to November when it is reasonably dry, and water is limited. A total of 1200 feral animals were dispatched in 2018-19 in aerial shooting activities at an average cost of $58.00 per animal. The total number of pigs destroyed in the twelve feral animal management areas by aerial shooting (FAMA) from 2013-14 to 2018-19 were 4,191 (helicopter cost $241,060; administration costs ~$14,000 per year). In 2018-19, the Council introduced an aerial shooting co-funding model with contributions from the Council, regional NRM groups (NQ Dry Tropics, Reef Catchments) and landholder contributions. A fee of $200 per property to participate in each aerial shooting program is charged.
The program expanded in 2019-20 into the Isaac, Burdekin and Charters Towers Regional Council areas, and 32 aerial shoots conducted. Landholders become involved through initial shed meetings, and then through landholder 1080 baiting days where program objectives are explained, and the service is offered. For the first year, the program is fully funded for landholders in the Isaac, Burdekin and Charters Towers Regional Council. Two grants were received by WRC to support their 2019-2022 program – Queensland Feral Animal initiative – $135,000 over three years and NQ Dry Tropics – $82,000 for 2019-2020. The total required budget is $531,060 over the three years of the program.
The stakeholders involved in the program for 2019-20 are: Whitsunday Regional Council, NQ Dry Tropics BBB Land Managers, NQ Dry Tropics, Queensland Feral Pest Initiative; Reef Catchments NRM; Burdekin Shire Council; Charters Towers Regional Council; Isaac Regional Council; Adani; NQ Bulk Ports; DNRM; Canegrowers Proserpine; Wilmar; Rocky Ponds Land Managers; Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, SunWater and WRC Land Managers. Landholders within each of the sixteen feral animal management areas (10 in WRC area and 6 in the Isaac, Burdekin and Charters Towers Regional Council areas) form into syndicates and bi-monthly project reports of flight path, track followed, and way points are provided.
This project commenced in July 2019 and as of December 2019, 3229 feral pigs have been destroyed across 9878 km flown across 28 helicopter flights. A total of 102 properties were involved in these activities in 16 feral animal management areas in five local government areas. Outcomes delivered include education in feral animal numbers; an economic evaluation of the impacts of feral pigs on agricultural systems and the environment; environmental benefits determined from aerial shooting by monitoring key impact sites; and a training manual for local government staff on how to conduct the aerial shooting activity (in development).
Different strategies need to be used to manage pigs in different areas (e.g. under vegetative cover, gullies and creeks) and affecting different agricultural enterprises. A meat baiting program using 1080 is also being undertaken for wild dogs and feral pigs. A series of traps are also managed by the WRC.
The economic impacts of feral pigs on the agriculture sector in the Whitsunday Regional Council region was determined in a study conducted by Synergies Consulting. Annual losses caused by feral pigs to livestock, horticulture and sugar cane production as well as wider regional impacts attributable to productivity losses and damage were determined. Costs to beef producers alone from feral pigs in the Whitsunday Regional Council region were estimated to be between $1.7-$4.2 million, due to reduced sale weights and weaning rates, loss of pasture and water infrastructure, and vaccination costs for leptospirosis. Click here for a copy of the report.