Australians target wild pigs in massive hunt

Feral pigs eat and damage crops, and local farmers have been demanding action for years to reduce their numbers

Australian officials have eradicated thousands of feral animals, including 4,750 wild pigs, in a bid to get out-of-hand animals under control.

The cull was carried out through a targeted aerial shoot in the western Riverina region of New South Wales by Local Land Services (LLS).

During the past three years aerial surveys of the area indicated there were as many as 170 wild pigs per square kilometre.

Local farmers who are plagued with feral pigs eating and damaging their crops have been calling for action for years to reduce the numbers.

According to LLS, the feral pig population in western Riverina could swell to two million head within five years if uncontrolled.

Also, the recent drought conditions have forced the pigs to venture further into urban areas in search of food, making them a greater problem for residents.

The aerial shoot killed up to 70 percent of the feral pig population.

LLS biosecurity and emergency services manager Michael Leane said the cull was required to reduce the pig population long-term.

“We made a big effort to get these figures by surveying the area, so we knew how many we needed to take out of the landscape.”

The feral pigs are a pest for farmers but are also damaging the environment as they spread weeds and disease.

In total the cull, which took place across 30 private properties, national parks and the Nimmie-Caira wetlands, eradicated 5,644 pests including feral pigs, cats, goats, foxes and deer.

Officials decided to go ahead with the cull following reports from the NSW Farmers Association that feral pig numbers had risen so fast they were beyond the control of the landholders.

It cost AUS$200,000 to carry out the shoot.

Although not ideal weather for agriculture, the drought conditions proved perfect for marksmen to carry out the shoot.

“There’s not many silver linings to drought conditions, but it’s an ideal window to achieve significant knockdowns when it comes to pest control,” Leane said.

“Pig numbers have dropped significantly due to the drought, so this recent cull means we can put a bigger dent in the pig population.

“We need to continue with the monitoring, we can’t just rest on our laurels now that we have killed these pigs, we will now push the trapping and baiting programs,” said Leane.

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