More than 1,000 feral pigs have been culled in an aerial shoot in June conducted by NSW Local Land Services (LLS) across a 2,900-square-mile region in the New South Wales western Riverina.
This culling was a follow-up to the aerial shoot carried out across the same area in November last year when 4,750 feral pigs were eradicated.
While this may not sound like a great strike rate, ABC News reports that with Australia's feral pig population estimated at 24 million, the cull has made a huge difference for landholders with grazing land.
Feral pigs in this area are preying on lambs, destroying waterways, harming the environment, competing with wildlife for food and posing disease risk for humans.
LLS hosted a cull centered around the area near the Murrumbidgee and Lachlan Rivers where feral pigs gravitate during dry conditions. Rivererina LLS biosecurity and emergency services manager Michael Leane says the control program is focused on reducing reproduction rates.
Left alone, the feral pig population in the western Riverina would swell to 2 million in five years, LLS estimates.
According to Leane, the data already shows a 90% reduction in just six months. The density of feral pigs in this area was about 170 pig per square kilometers in November, but that has now reduced to about 10 pigs per square kilometer.
The team used aerial surveillance from drones and infrared cameras fitted to helicopters before, during and after the exercise to determine pig density.
This program, known as the Western Riverina Pig Project, involved 44 landholders, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and community groups, ABC News reported.
Leane says aerial culling has been effective in reducing the feral pig population but baiting with 1080 poison and trapping will still be needed in the year ahead. LLS will continue to support landholders and community groups to stay on top of the feral pig population with ground control.
"If we get a couple of good seasons with rain, they can breed up quickly, so the focus will be ground control and a follow-up shoot if needed," Leane says. "We are not going to eradicate them completely, but we don't want those numbers to bounce back.”
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