Nearly 5,000 wild pigs have been eradicated in a targeted aerial shoot in western Riverina region of New South Wales, Australia, to control escalating numbers of this troublesome predator. Not only are wild pigs a pest for farmers in Australia, but they are also damaging the environment and spreading disease.
The cull was facilitated by Local Land Services (LLS). According to ABC News, over the past three years, aerial surveys of the area indicated there were as many as 170 wild pigs per square kilometre. Local farmers who are plagued with the pigs eating and damaging their crops have been calling for action for years to reduce the pig numbers.
According to LLS, the feral pig population in the western Riverina could swell to two million head within five years if not controlled. Recent drought conditions have forced the pigs to venture further into urban areas in search for food making them an undeniable problem for residents.
The aerial shoot covered an area of 750,000 hectares and killed up to 70 percent of the feral pig population.
LLS biosecurity and emergency services manager Michael Leane said, “This knockdown was required to reduce the pig population long term. We made a big effort to get these figures by surveying the area, so we knew how many we needed to take out of the landscape.”
The cull, which took place across 30 private properties, national parks and the Nimmie-Caira wetlands, eradicated 5,644 pests including feral pigs, cats, goats, foxes and deer. The $200,000 cost of the shoot was covered by the 2018 Pest and Weed Drought Funding Program recommended in the Australian Government Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
The Western Riverina Pig Project, a joint initiative by Riverina, Murray and Western Local Land Services, was developed to reduce numbers and help landholders control pest problems in the future.
“Pig numbers have dropped significantly due to the drought, so this recent cull means we can put a bigger dent in the pig population,” Leane said. "We need to continue with the monitoring, we can't just rest on our laurels now that we have killed these pigs, we will now push the trapping and baiting programs."