Pig cull in Riverina adds another 1649 scalps

Southern rain sparks bid to control feral pig expansion

Feral pigs under the microscope. Pictures courtesy of Local Land Services. Up to 90 per cent of pigs have been culled in a 750,000 hectare area

Feral pigs under the microscope. Pictures courtesy of Local Land Services. Up to 90 per cent of pigs have been culled in a 750,000 hectare area


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Trying to prevent feral pigs expanding their turf in the Riverina is an ongoing battle but another 1649 pigs have been shot in an ongoing aerial cull operation.

It follows on a cull last year in the Riverina that saw 4750 pigs taken out in a similar operation.

Riverina Local Land Services said a follow-up aerial shoot in the western Riverina has "eradicated 1649 pests from the landscape", adding to more than 5600, including 4750 pigs, removed in an extensive aerial program late last year. It means about 90 per cent of the feral pig population in the Riverina area have been culled - but the battle goes on.

Related: Aerial cull in south-west NSW takes out thousands of feral pigs

"The drought conditions from the last aerial program to now have eased a little but this follow up shoot was important to keep populations down this year to try to beat the rate of reproduction," said Manager Biosecurity and Emergency Services Michael Leane.

"Last year we achieved really high numbers and combined with the impact the drought's had, populations are down this time around. Comparing property data we're seeing up to a 90 per cent reduction over the past six months."

Aerial surveillance has underpinned the past three years of pest control in the Western Riverina Pig Project area, Mr Leane said.

Night shot of feral pigs.

Night shot of feral pigs.

"Data has been collected annually and we had a drone fly over priority properties a month before this shoot to make sure we are targeting areas where high densities of feral pigs are."

Mr Leane said Local Land Services will continue to work with landholders in the project area to carry out strategic trapping and baiting.

"There's no room for complacency now. On the back of these two shoots, if pest control is maintained consistently we hope to see populations stay right down."

Mr Leane said it was a successful project that was the final part of the Federal funded pest management program.

Night vision captures feral pigs on move.

Night vision captures feral pigs on move.

"We didn't shoot the large numbers of last time, which actually says we're winning," he said. "If we shot more, that's an issue. We took advantage of the drought to get the numbers down. We had to cull 70 per cent of the population to beat breeding, we think we are up 80 to 90 per cent, that's why you're shooting less the second time. There's still pigs left there, probably 10-20 per cent of what we started with, we'll do another survey to confirm that."

"So we shot in the Lachlan-lower Murrumbidgee areas from Booligal to Maude. Obviously along the waterline we found them. The country is looking a lot better than six months ago. Those pigs were in better condition than six months ago. There's no huge amounts of water though, no floodplains, like when you get the big flooding you get the pig breeding.

"We conducted the cull over 750,00 hectares, Riverina, Murray and Western LLS and NPWS. A trained LLS and NPWS staff were involved in the aerial culling. Of course, you can't just use one method of control, using trapping and baiting on the ground was important, and the aerial shooting can take out large numbers in a short period of time.

"We want to keep on to this project, the Federal funding has run out, we will look at other ways we can fund pest management programs, we don't want numbers to build back up."

Local Land Services led the operation with the co-operation of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, community groups and landholders. For more information on pest animal management, landholders can contact their nearest Local Land Services office on 1300 795 299. The program used funding from the 2018 Pest and Weed Drought Funding Program.


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