The NSW Government has feral pigs in its sights and is putting up extra funds in the fight against booming porcine populations across the state.
With ongoing wet weather creating ideal conditions for pigs to breed, Premier Chris Minns has promised an extra $8 million to help fund a new coordinated control program.
“When we were elected, we committed to addressing biosecurity threats as a priority and today, we are delivering on that commitment,” he said, announcing the program to be delivered by the Department of Regional NSW through Local Land Services.
“The feral pig population has increased substantially over recent years, causing millions of dollars worth of damage in lost agricultural production and environmental degradation.
“This funding boost will allow for the delivery of a sophisticated and coordinated control program to help reduce feral pig numbers across NSW.”
The one-year program bolsters the Government’s spending on feral pig control to $13m for the financial year as ongoing wet conditions are seeing the populations spike.
Last month, NSW Farmers president Xavier Martin put out an SOS to bolster funding, and the war on pigs will be a key point of discussion at this week’s NSW Farmers annual conference in Sydney.
Mr Martin said millions of feral pigs were “rampaging” across the countryside attacking native animals and livestock, and causing damage to crops and infrastructure.
“From the Western Riverina through the Central West and up into the Northern Tablelands, we’re hearing members tell us they’ve never seen pigs this bad before,” Mr Martin said.
“Aerial shooting over the past year saw 80 per cent more pigs culled than the year before, and authorities have distributed 74 tonnes of baits to landholders, but the numbers continue to grow, particularly on public land.”
Local Land Services culled more than 97,000 feral pigs in the past 12 months through its largest-ever coordinated pest animal control campaign.
Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty said the new funding would build on the success of the program and its findings.
“On top of aerial shooting operations, this new program will also deliver practical training for landholders to help control feral pigs on their properties and provide subsidised feral pig bait, to promote an integrated approach to control.
“We all have a role to play in tackling the threat of biosecurity in this state, so the more landholders we have taking part in coordinated control programs, the more effective they are.”
The program will see the appointment of a NSW State Feral Pig Coordinator to oversee the implementation of control measures and the delivery of support and training to landholders.
Mr Martin said a coordinated program between private and government stakeholders across the state was the only way forward.
“Trying to keep the pig numbers down farm by farm is a bit like trying to put out half a fire – if you’re not tackling the whole problem methodically, it’ll just keep coming back,” he said.
“A lack of effective control on public lands is undermining our collective efforts, and we know that’s where the pigs are breeding because we see them coming onto our farms from public lands.
“We need more resources and a solid commitment from all parties involved to tackle feral pigs so we can get on top of them and stay on top of them.”