Alpha and Clermont graziers club together against feral pigs

Landholders from Alpha and Clermont have formed feral pig cluster groups as pig numbers and control costs surge.

The aim is to enhance feral pig management activities of the Isaac and Barcaldine Regional Councils within the Burdekin Dry Tropics NRM region. Over two years, four three-day shoots will be conducted across an area of 750,000ha, with the first was carried out in March. Targeted areas include Belyando River, Mistake Creek and Companion Creek.

Landholders have been engaged through workshops to guide where and when aerial control operations will take place. Cluster groups enable neighbours to team up to share the cost of professional eradication services. The local councils will administer the control program.

NQ Dry Tropics has received assistance through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements: Environmental Recovery Package: Weeds and Pest Management Program to undertake feral pig management with local governments.

NQ Dry Tropics facilitates and coordinates the development of cluster groups for feral pig management in the Burdekin Dry Tropics region through the Regional Pest Management Group (RPMG) network, of which Isaac and Barcaldine Regional Councils are members.

Feral pigs cause significant agricultural and environmental damage, and pose a biosecurity risk for the spread of diseases such as Foot and Mouth disease, African swine fever, and Japanese encephalitis virus.

Significant rainfall over the past 12 months has caused an increase in feral pig numbers in the Isaac and Barcaldine regions due to increased availability of food and water. Numbers are exploding so control measures have become critical.

The benefits of cluster-based approaches to feral pig management have been demonstrated in other regions and is supported and recommended at a national level by the National Feral Pig Action Plan.

The number and locations of culled feral pigs will be recorded for reporting and evaluation.

Pictured from left, Dusty Trails helicopter pilot Daniel Black, NQ Dry Tropics Regional Pest Management Group Coordinator Thijs Krugers, and Land Protection Officers John Fisher (Barcaldine Regional Council), Andries van Jaarsveld (Isaac Regional Council) and Michelle Ross (Isaac Regional Council). The group met with landholders during a shed meet at Burtle, near Alpha.

Trap demonstrated at pest group meeting

The Burdekin Dry Tropics Regional Pest Management Group (RPMG) hosted a demonstration of the BoarBuster, a high-tech suspended trap system to control feral pigs, at a recent meeting held in Ayr.

It is being trialled at various locations around the state by Graham Schoorl, from GPS Trapping. 

The BoarBuster can be observed and dropped remotely from anywhere with internet service, is mobile so you can take the trap to the pigs and easily set from scratch, and has an integrated load-out door to easily remove pigs from the trap.

With satellite reception and cameras attached, farmers can have 24/7 alerts set up to the phone and can follow the alert link to a live feed of the cage.  When they see pigs in the cage, at the press of the button the one metre high suspended trap drops, trapping the pigs.

The trap takes about an hour to assemble and the camera takes another hour to set up and operating. Only half that time to disassemble it.

Feral pig control can be considered an extra job for farmers, and a costly one. If new technology can help with efficiency, it may encourage landholders to incorporate pig control into their annual management plan.

The RPMG promotes and assists stakeholders to work collaboratively on regionally-important pest projects to deliver positive pest management outcomes for the Burdekin Dry Tropics region. 

It’s made up of representatives from state and local government representatives, infrastructure managers, local Traditional Owners, industry, landcare groups and NQ Dry Tropics.