Feral Pigs: a field guide to poison baiting

Feral pigs have been in Australia since European settlement. Early  wild populations established due to deliberate release and  accidental escape of domestic pigs, so most were found near  settlement areas. Since then, feral pigs have spread across nearly  45% of Australia and they are found in all states and territories.

Feral pigs are highly adaptable and tolerate a wide range of different climates and habitats. They are, however, fairly heat intolerant so  need access to water and dense vegetation in hot conditions so they  can drink, wallow and rest in the shade. As a result, they are mostly nocturnal in hot conditions, becoming active late in the afternoon  and moving back to cover shortly before sunrise.

When it is really hot, they may visit water during the day but this  generally occurs at heavily shaded waterholes. Feral pigs are also  creatures of habit and use regular travel pads to water, preferred feeding grounds and bedding sites unless they are repeatedly  disturbed. Signs like wallows, tracks, scats, fence crossings, rubbing  and tusking are often found on these travel pads and are very useful  for determining recent presence.

Predation, disease transmission, habitat degradation and  competition by feral pigs are all listed as a key threatening process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation  Act 1999. Feral pigs consume a variety of wildlife including lizards,  snakes, turtles, frogs, birds, crustaceans, insects and worms. They  also compete with wildlife for resources and destroy habitat by  trampling and ground rooting, which promotes weed establishment,  changes vegetation structure and causes soil erosion. Feral pigs also  impact agricultural production by eating and trampling crops,  attacking lambs, competing with livestock and damaging  infrastructure. Feral pigs also carry many endemic diseases such as leptospirosis and brucellosis, and they are potential carriers of  exotic diseases such as classical swine fever and foot-andmouth disease, most of which threaten wildlife, human and livestock health.

Because of the damage they cause, management of feral pig  populations is often carried out. In Australia, this is done by poison  baiting, aerial shooting, hunting, trapping and fencing. All have their  positives and negatives, but none are 100% effective if they are used  on their own. Best practice pest management programs should  use several techniques in combination. It is also important to cover as large an area as possible and undertake management  regularly to help slow reinvasion and population recovery.

This field guide mainly focuses on poison baiting, but there are  several aspects covered that may be helpful for other control  techniques, such as trapping.

Secondary title PestSmart
Author Jason Wishart
Year 2015
Publisher Invasive Animals CRC
Pages 20
ISBN/ISSN Web ISBN: 978-1-921777-96-7
Control method Baiting
Region Australia - national
Links Feral Pig main page:  www.pestsmart.org.au/pest-animal-species/feral-pig/
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