Coastal feral pig population explosion threatens crops, livestock and emus

Wild pigs in the pockets of the north coast of New South Wales are wreaking havoc on farmers as the invasive pest destroys crops, pastures and threatens livestock.

A recent gust of rain has caused the destructive animal to hunt for food, with reports of a wild boar killing a calf. They also ravaged the fields of sugar cane and blueberries.

Dean Chamberlain of the local North Coast Land Services said a number of landowners were successful in controlling the numbers using the new Hoggone bait.

A property in Bora Ridge, in the Bungawalbin area southeast of Casino, collected more than 120 feral pig carcasses after using the bait.

Senior Biosecurity Officer David Brill places Hoggone trays in a bait box.(

Provided: Local North Coast Land Services

)

Soft-toothed swimming pigs

Further south, sugarcane producers in the Clarence Valley are counting the costs of increasing feral pig numbers on the mainland and on the islands.

Cane grower Alistair McFarlane estimated that Woodford Island’s population had grown from zero to over 120 pigs in just a few years.

“They seem to want earthworms or whatever they can find in the cane root system, but having so many pigs here is a nightmare.”

Black wild pigs on a cane farm.
Wild pigs spotted on a cane farm on Woodford Island.(

Provided: Sonny Gray

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He said it was a full time job trying to control the invasive pests.

“If you go out in the morning and in the evening, you have to do your other chores, it’s huge, even to trap them, you have to set the trap, put food in it, it becomes a chore,” he said. declared.

“These are just small traps and they are very difficult to eradicate.”

But with the use of doggers and pig bait, he said he has eliminated around 20 feral pigs so far.

Further downstream on the Isle of Warregah, there is only one wandering boar causing grief to Milton Lewis, but he’s worried the numbers may turn out to be what he saw a few years ago.

“At one point there were three sows with litters, nothing like the numbers in other areas, but they did quite a bit of damage and maybe cost us a few hundred tonnes of rod a season. “, did he declare.

“In some varieties they’ll chew and flatten half an acre circles, in other varieties I’ve seen them and they just eat a stalk here and there, but they actually do quite a bit of damage because it there is dead cane all over the paddock. “

Milton Lewis standing next to the Cane.
Milton Lewis is concerned about the growing number of feral pigs.(

ABC Rural: Kim Honan

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Mr Lewis said it was only a matter of time before feral pigs made it across the continent where farmers were also trying to control the pest.

The sugarcane farmer has trapped and slaughtered feral pigs in the past and tried to bait, but also found this difficult given the abundance of food on his farm.

“We had a baiting program in place that was very successful initially, but they are such intelligent animals that we couldn’t get them to keep biting the bait,” he said. he declares.

Hungry pigs a huge problem

Closer to the coast, food shortages in Yuraygir National Park are pushing feral pigs to a farm near the devastating sugar cane fields of Brooms Head.

Mr Chamberlain said more than 100 pigs were slaughtered on the property by trapping and baiting.

“Where the pigs come from, they probably come from the eastern part of the park area and other potentially freehold land between there and the cane farm.”

The National Parks and Wildlife Service said in addition to trapping, it was shooting pigs in the area. It was also about baiting.

“The NPWS recognizes the impact of feral pigs not only on the biodiversity of Yuraygir National Park, but also on neighboring farms,” a spokesperson said.

Wild pigs threaten the emu population

Pigs are also threatening the endangered coastal emu population in the region with a spotted emu stalking an emu and chicks on a sugarcane farm.

Black wild pig emu rods and chicks
A wild pig stalks an emu and chicks on a cane farm near Brooms Head in the Clarence Valley.(

Provided: Barbara Winters

)

Mr Chamberlain said they pose a risk to native species that live on the ground.


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