Poisons, traps, aerial shooters, recreational hunters and bounties should be enlisted to undertake a massive cull of the feral pig population to reduce the risk of foot and mouth disease breaking out in Australia, according Katter’s Australia Party.
With a potential $80 billion impact on the country if the disease takes hold here, there’s growing concern that the increasingly large feral pig population will be one of the key vectors in the spread of the disease.
In Queensland, KAP MP Robbie Katter has called on the state government to drop its proposed on a controversial pig poison, CSSP, in the face of the FMD threat.
The use of CSSP, or yellow phosphorus, will be outlawed on animal welfare grounds under the proposed Animal Care and Protection Amendment Bill 2022, which is due to go before the Queensland Parliament.
“As a tool in the fight against feral pests, [CSSP] is a necessary evil at this point given the threat posed to our entire country by FMD,” Mr Katter said, adding his party was calling for a two-year delay on the ban.
Fellow KAP MP Shane Knuth said the poison was not the only tool the state’s government should use.
“The steps needed beyond abandoning the CSSP ban are to give feral pig hunters permits to access national parks and state forests, introduce a bounty program, give farmers to access grants to combat feral pigs, and provide more funds to aerial shooting,” he said
“The risk of them spreading FMD is huge, which is why we keep calling on the Government to back recreational pig hunters and aerial shooting.”
“We need to be working in a collaborative and coordinated way to reduce populations of feral pigs,” National Feral Pig Management Coordinator Dr Heather Channon told the ABC.
The ABC also quoted a former vet as saying that if FMD were to get into the feral pig and goat populations “it would be almost impossible to treat and contain it”.
Harmless fragments of the disease have already been detected in Australia.
There is a real risk live traces of it could enter Australia through food imports or on the shoes of travellers returning from Bali, where there has been an outbreak.
Pigs are carrying Japanese encephalitis in the Northern Territory, where aerial culling has recently re-started after a three-year hiatus.
Described as “the most effective method of feral control” in Kakadu National Park, helicopter-borne shooters shot at least 6000 pigs in the first cull.
Main image by Tim Lowe/Sporting Shooter