Closing the gate on feral pigs

Article submitted by Tiffany Inglis, Project Officer – Biodiversity Response Planning, Parks Victoria

On Lindsay Island, formed by anabranches in the Murray River, a new approach to feral pig control is being trialled using remotely-operated gates on traps.

‘These electronic traps are saving days and days of work just by being able to monitor and control them remotely,’ says Shane Kelly, Senior Ranger for Parks Victoria in the state’s north-west.

Lindsay Island, which is part of Murray-Sunset National Park, provides prime habitat for feral pigs, and Shane has been focusing his efforts there for nearly eight years.

The pigs prefer wetland and riverine habitats where they destroy native vegetation by digging up large areas to look for food. They can also carry and transfer animal diseases. It is hoped that the new technology will mean a more successful control program, especially as the pigs’ breed so quickly.

‘Firstly, I use cameras to monitor what is moving in the local area and eating the bait that I put out,’ he explains. ‘Once I know where the pigs are, I can set the traps up with the electronic gates. The gates also have cameras attached that let me see what has entered the cage. Once I know that pigs have gone in to the trap to feed, I enter a code into my phone, which then closes the gate remotely. It’s amazing!’

The new technology has meant that instead of having to go out and check each trap every day, with some traps being almost an hour’s drive from his office base, Shane can do all the work from one location.

This is the first time the remotely-operated pig traps have been used in the Victorian Mallee. Soon more traps will be purchased for areas of known pig use in other nearby National Parks, including Hattah-Kulkyne.

‘I’ve trapped more than 700 pigs on Lindsay Island over the last eight years,’ says Shane. ‘But I hope now with this new technology that I can increase that number exponentially.’

This project has been funded by the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity Response Planning program and is helping to ensure that Victoria’s natural environment is healthy, valued and actively cared for.

Cameras used in trapping – camera on the right Jager Pro used to close the gates