Far West NSW is experiencing what some pastorialists are calling a feral pig plague and they say the they saw it coming several months ago. Some landowners are reporting shooting 200 to 300 pigs on their properties in a year.
In response aerial and ground shooting is underway across the region through Western Local Land Service (LLS).
LLS has also responded by providing information, 1080 bait, and a pig trap door as a demonstration template to help graziers construct their own traps.
If left unmanaged, the pigs could degrade soil, young livestock could be lost, fences damaged, , and they could even be a danger to people due to their increasing size and numbers.
LLS Regional Pest Animal Coordinator, Brooke Anderson, told the Truth that she wouldn’t call it a pig plague at this point but reassured the community they are on the job to eradicate the destructive animal.
“I wouldn’t call it a pig plague but there’s definitely higher than usual numbers at the moment,” she said. “It’s been ideal conditions for them to reach the numbers we’re seeing now but the LLS recently received additional funding and is committed to supporting landholders to manage the situation with baiting using meat or grain baits, ground shooting, trapping, and aerial shooting from helicopters.”
Local Land Coordinator of Western Area, Tracy Lauritsen, and her husband, grazier Randy Lauritsen have been on the land for 22 years and have never seen so many feral pigs.
“The pigs seem to be more brazen, coming into the yard around the house on our property. When we first came here, we probably saw a dozen feral pigs in 10 years, but it’s way past that now,” said Ms Lauritsen.
“We have teen kids on motorbikes seeing them regularly during the day, so we’ve started culling by setting traps at dams, and carrying a gun in the vehicle when we’re driving around to check waters,” she said.
“Along the Barrier Hwy east of Wilcannia we saw several goats crossing the road at the same time, which is pretty unusual, and then we saw a large pig stalking them. They’ll just run right into a mob and grab lambs or kids. People are reporting shooting 200 to 300 pigs on their properties in a year.
Terry Smith, President of the Pastoralists’ Association of West Darling (PAWD), told us,
“The LLS is currently doing an aerial shoot of feral pigs, so they’ll have a better idea on the numbers than PAWD but anecdotally they are very high at the moment.
“The past run of good seasons has been ideal for the pigs to breed. They reproduce from six months of age and can have two litters a year. One sow can produce enough offspring to become 100 pigs in 24 months in ideal conditions like we’ve had,” he said.
Feral pigs impact on small livestock as they kill newborn lambs and kids (baby goats).
“I’ve heard of people losing 40% to 50% of lambs in some cases, and they don’t kill the animal and then eat it, they just start eating, it’s quite savage. They also spread several diseases such as leptospirosis which effects cattle and can cause them to abort pregnancies,” Mr Smith said.