14 August 2023

NSW Government seeks pig-hunter-in-chief as things get feral across the state

| Chris Roe
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Pig numbers are out of control and the NSW Government is looking for candidates to become the first State Feral Pig Coordinator

Pig numbers are out of control and the NSW Government is looking for candidates to become the first Feral Pig Coordinator. Photo: File.

The hunt is on to find the ideal candidate to lead NSW’s war on feral pigs.

With porcine populations exploding over several wet years, the State Government has opened applications for the state’s first Feral Pig Coordinator.

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“We’re committed to tackling rising feral pig numbers and know that the best way to do so is through the delivery of a wide-scale and coordinated control program,” said Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty.

“This new $13 million program will include landscape aerial shooting and ground control activities across NSW, while also delivering practical training to landholders to give them the skills to control feral pigs on their properties.”

Wild pig numbers are in the millions across NSW

Wild pig numbers are in the millions across NSW. Photo: File.

Over the past 12 months, Local Land Services has culled more than 97,000 feral pigs after delivering its largest-ever coordinated pest animal control campaign.

Farmers have reported shooting as many as 300 pigs an hour from their own helicopters and in June, NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin warned of “millions of feral pigs” 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.

Premier Chris Minns agreed and an additional $8 million was added to the effort.

“The feral pig population has increased substantially over recent years, causing millions of dollars worth of damage in lost agricultural production and environmental degradation,” said Mr Minns.

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While landholders are responsible for pest control on their properties, the State Government acknowledged the issues with adjoining state reserves.

“More often than not the neighbour in regional communities is a property owned by the taxpayer, so that is my responsibility,” the Premier said at last month’s NSW Farmers conference.

“We need to make sure those organisations are fully resourced so that problems that start on government land don’t impact the private and agriculture sector.”

Local Land Services will deliver the 2023-24 feral pig control program using the latest technologies and control methods to reduce feral pig populations.

Control efforts will target areas across the state with high density feral pig populations to ensure they have the greatest impact on pig numbers.

The award-winning Western Riverina Pest Program is the largest feral pig control program in the country, covering 1.4 million ha along the Lachlan River south of Hillston and down to the Murrumbidgee River west of Hay.

Their success in rapidly reducing numbers was attributed to collaboration and the use of new technology such as helicopter-mounted thermal cameras, GPS tracking collars, DNA sampling and baiting programs.


Thermal camera surveying was a key part of the Western Riverina Pest Program’s success. Photo: NSW Government Local Land Services.

The newly created coordinator will oversee the control activities and the landholder support initiatives.

“A key part of this role will be engaging with both private and public land managers to ensure as many people as possible are participating in our coordinated control programs and playing their role in tackling rising feral pig numbers,” Ms Moriarty said.

“We’re looking for a driven candidate to spearhead this new program who has experience managing and implementing broad-scale pest animal control programs.”

If you see yourself in the role, you can apply to be the first NSW Feral Pig Coordinator here.

Original Article published by Chris Roe on About Regional.

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