Bumper harvests are providing pigs with perfect for conditions for a feeding and breeding frenzy.Local Land Services is urging landholders to ramp up their ground control of the pest.
The ABC reported “In the Riverina, the pigs are feasting on the spoils of a healthy grain harvest, prompting authorities to call on farmers to stay on top of the pest before it breeds in plague proportions”.
Riverina Local Land Service biosecurity officer Eliza Bramma said the abundance of feed and water was leading to feral pigs breeding in huge numbers this season.
“This season we are seeing numbers more in the range of 10 offspring per sow, so they are certainly on the increase,” Ms Bramma said.
“There was plenty of feed, water and protection available over winter and into spring and that is the perfect formula for feral pig to breed up.”
Ms Bramma said harvested grain that was stored in silo bags was an appealing food source for feral pigs.
“We urge farmers to fence around their silo bags and keep stored grain away from any hills and scrub country.”
“It also helps to clean up any spilt grain from around as it will deter pigs from establishing in that area.”
Ms Bramma said feral pigs were hugely destructive, and controlling of the pest with baiting, trapping and shooting was essential.
“They cause a lot of damage by digging out furrows after sowing, they predate on lambs, but the biggest risk they pose is disease,” she said.
“They can carry foot and mouth disease and swine fever and if an outbreak was to occur and spread it would have a huge economical impact in Australia.”
Ms Bramma recognised many farmers were busy with harvest at the moment and most feral pig control would be carried out post-harvest.
“Taking the time now to put traps out near water and feed sources will get the pigs used to them and then the traps can then be set once summer hits and harvest is over,” she said.
“It’s the same thing with baiting. If you put out some grain for them in a designated area, you can try and establish what numbers are there and your LLS biosecurity officer can work out a plan with you to control them.”
The Queensland Government has reported that Australia has a feral pig population of about 24 million.
“We are not winning the war on feral pigs, it is a long slog, it is something we are going to have to keep on top of,” Ms Bramma said.
“I don’t think there is a silver bullet at this stage, apart from consistency.”
She said controlling the pest in summer was key to reducing feral pig numbers.
“Landholders need to get ahead of the game now and target them over summer when feed becomes more scarce as they will be ready to have another litter by sowing time autumn.”
Being a busy time of the year for farmers, there is no better time to introduce yourself to a farmer, build a relationship and with some luck enjoy your past time whilst controlling an expolding feral population.