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.
|Publisher||Invasive Animals CRC|
|ISBN/ISSN||Web ISBN: 978-1-921777-96-7|
|Region||Australia - national|
|Links||Feral Pig main page: www.pestsmart.org.au/pest-animal-species/feral-pig/|
|Documents||Download full publication: Feral Pigs: a field guide to poison baiting [ 1.4 Mb PDF ]|