Council’s feral pig control program is on track

The Whitsunday Regional Council’s 2018/19 feral pig aerial control program is on course to eclipse the previous year’s tally.  The LDC project matches landholders’ contributions towards the cost of the aerial control in the Whitsunday region.

LDC will match every $200 landholder contribution to the Whitsunday Regional Council’s 2018/19 annual feral animal program.

The financial contribution fits in with the LDC project’s aims to tackle erosion and improve land management, productivity and water quality flowing into the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon.

Landholder contributions are tax deductible.

Feral pigs contribute to soil erosion and weed spread, consume and foul molasses, lick blocks, pasture and watering points, spread disease and can reduce calving rates.

Whitsunday Regional Council has identified feral animal ‘hot spots’ in the region which coincide with wetland areas, deep water creek areas and regular food sources.

Reef catchment councils work together to improve practices and support each other’s programs through the Reef Guardian Councils partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Reef Urban Stormwater Management Group.

Local government investment for outcomes for the reef is acknowledged in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

For more information, contact the Whitsunday Regional Council on 1300 972 753.

Bren Fuller with a feral pig

Contributed by WRC’s Scott Hardy and Bren Fuller

SNAPSHOT

2017-18 tally of feral pigs: 1280.

2018-19 (to October 2018) tally of feral pigs:  772.

Helicopter flights: six flights covering 1878 km.

Average cost to cull each pig: $48.

51 landholders contributed to the program.

The annual aerial shooting program will cost about $100,000 including $70,000 cash and $30,000 of in-kind support.

 

Feral Animal Management Areas Syndicate Shoot date Flight distance Km Feral pigs culled Wild dogs Deer Total culled Cost per animal destroyed (helicopter time plus ammunition)
Birralee
Birralee Collinsville bridge to Bowen River mouth 12.09.18 343.4 248 1 No deer shot. Deer present along water courses 249 $27.45
Bogie Glenalpine to Strathalbyn 17.09.18 474.6 117 4 No deer observed 121 $51.97
Rocky Ponds Leichardt Creek, Rocky Ponds Creek to coast 19.09.18 400.5 149 1 No deer observed 150 $42.60
Abbot Point Eurie Creek to Elliot River 28.09.18 317.2 117 2 No deer observed 119 $51.56
Goorganga Goorganga to Andromache 03.10.18 190.9 34 7 No deer observed 41 $82.48
Don River Selina Creek to Reeves Road 18.10.18 151.6 107 3 No deer observed 110 $36.15
Suttor River Cantaur Park to Illamatha TBC
Burdekin Dam Burdekin Dam and Lower section of Burdekin shire TBC
Totals 1878.2 772 18 790 $48.70 average

Summary of the feral pig control program

Whitsunday Regional Council’s Bren Fuller said council’s feral pig aerial control program was rolling out smoothly thanks to the financial support of the region’s landholders and stakeholders groups.

This is his wrap-up:

Putting a chopper in the air is not cheap so the council relies on funds from the ratepayer, natural resource management groups and industry bodies to help cover the costs.  If we all chip in, we all benefit.

The feedback from landholders who have taken part in the program has been positive.

Some landholders have said their calving numbers improved and others said the damage to their crops dropped, which they attributed to the aerial shooting program.

The council has structured the program to direct available funding where it’s needed most, in conjunction with good planning.

Locating feral pigs in the landscape relies on us mapping wetland, rivers and large dam areas, as well as talking to landholders who know their patch.

With this intelligence, we develop Feral Animal Management Areas (FAMAs) that show where there is food, water and shelter for the pigs.

From there, we make a list of the landholders in the FAMA which form our landholder syndicates.

During the past few years I have talked about this program to more than 200 landholders.  I think council is starting to develop a really good project that has the support of a lot of graziers and also the horticulture industry.

We have started producing a newsletter to summarise the outcomes of the project.  Landholders can quickly look across the landscape and wee where the pigs have been destroyed.  We also include a map showing the helicopter flight paths.

There is nothing like doing a job where you can see that you you have made a positive difference on the ground, and getting feedback from landholders that they also notice a difference.

Regional Pest Management

Pest plants and animals threaten our region’s economic, social and environmental sustainability.

As a leading member of the Burdekin Dry Tropics Regional Pest Management Group (RPMG), NQ Dry Tropics works alongside partners including Biosecurity Queensland, Queensland Department of National Parks, local government, industry and landcare groups to determine the region’s priority pest plants and animals, and how best to manage them.  

The RPMG has developed and implemented four long-term management plans for feral pigs, feral chital deer, siam weed and prickly acacia.

These plans target investment on high-value environmental, agricultural and culturally important areas.

NQ Dry Tropics is also an active member of the Sagittaria Working Group, an initiative of the RPMG, which promotes awareness of Sagittaria platyphylla among community members at regular events.

*Whitsunday Regional Council is a Burdekin Dry Tropics Regional Pest Management Group partner.

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KEQ #1

Figure 1. Total fine sediment reduction by project type and erosion source. Inset shows the proportion of the total project area for each project type.

These estimates have been calculated using two methods: 

1) The pollutant reduction component of the Alluvium/Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) investment tool for hillslope and streambank erosion management projects; 

2) The Reef Trust Gully Toolbox method for gully erosion management projects. The LDC Water Quality Report 2020 (Waterhouse et al., 2020) highlights that a number of assumptions underlay these calculations, therefore these figures should be treated as the best available estimate of sediment reductions to date.

Preventing sediment from reaching the Great Barrier Reef

Each wet season sediment is washed into local waterways and out to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). 

Most sediment is very fine, and can stay suspended for a long time and can travel great distances. Valuable topsoil is lost from production, and increased concentrations on the reef can be harmful to seagrasses and corals. 

Landholders in the BBB have completed 69 on-ground water quality practice changes, and it is estimated that these have contributed a fine sediment reduction of 6,154 tonnes per year from reaching the GBR. 

Of this, approximately half of the sediment savings are attributable to grazing land management changes on hillslopes and streambanks, and the other half as a result of gully remediation treatments across a broad range of scales, as shown in the graphs above. 

The table below also highlights the relatively small area of intervention in the gully management projects compared to the large sediment savings that these can achieve - 60 per cent of the sediment savings over only 4 per cent of the project area.

Table 1. Estimated sediment reductions (tonnes) from projects completed in the LDC Project to date.

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*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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*The Exploring New Incentives activity area has provided an opportunity for graziers to adopt improved land management practices through a range of activities. For some of these properties, it was the first time they signed contracts for on-ground works.

KEQ #4

The LDC project monitors four gully sites (represented in this table) with gold standard equipment and analysis, carried out by CSIRO.

Results have been compiled in a preliminary report from Bartley et al (2020), with the final report expected to be released by the end of 2020. The preliminary report shows all four sites have indicators of improvements, notably the Strathbogie and Mt Wickham sites.

KEQ #5

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Reef regulations - grazing, standard conditions

  1. For land in good or fair condition (more than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), continue using measures to maintain land condition.
  2. For land in poor condition (less than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition.
  3. For land in degraded condition (less than 20 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition OR prevent areas from further degrading or expanding.
  4. Keep records of measures taken and also of agricultural chemicals, fertiliser and mill mud or mill ash applied to land.
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