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Landholders urged to look out for signs of pig activity

Feral pig surveillance camera shotFeral pigs are a declared pest and landholders are required to take reasonable steps to control them on their land. Staff from North Coast Local Land Services can assist with control. 

Dean Chamberlain, North Coast Local Land Services Team Leader, Invasive Species said "Feral pigs compete with stock for feed, damage water sources, fences, pastures as well as causing significant damage to natural wetlands and the flora and fauna that inhabit these areas." 

"They also act as carriers for diseases that affect both livestock and humans such as leptospirosis and brucellosis, both of which can be very debilitating diseases."

What to look for:

The majority of land managers would be familiar with the signs of pig activity, but for those who aren't, there are signs to look out for:

  • Rooting:  Feral pig rooting is distinctive and generally more evident after rain.  They use their snouts and teeth to dig the ground for roots and other food sources.   Signs of rooting can be small, just the odd 'snouting' up, or substantial, leaving hectares looking like ploughed paddocks.   Other signs include disturbed ground along the bottom of fences where the pigs are chasing worms.
  • Wallowing:  In hot weather feral pigs wallow in the mud on the edge of dams or wet areas, leaving an oval depression.  These wallows will help determine how recently pigs have been in the area. They will often rub against trees or fence posts nearby leaving a mud-rub.
  • Tusking:  Adult boars will 'tusk' saplings leaving cut marks, usually near water or a pad.
  • Crop Damage: Feral pigs will root up plants and eat and trample crops to create a camp.
  • Pads, Tracks and Fences: Pads will be single file, but tracks can sometimes be confused with sheep or deer tracks.  Signs of pads under fences will differ from those used by kangaroos, as there will be mud and bristles on the wire.
  • Scats: are well formed, approx 30 mm to 60 mm diameter and up to 250 mm long, often consisting of vegetable matter, bristles, wool, bone chips and hair.
  • Nests: Sows will build nests from vegetation up to three metres in diameter and up to a metre high.

An integrated, collaborative approach to feral pig control is most effective. 

According to Dean Chamberlain, "For feral pig numbers to remain static, 80% of the population needs to be destroyed annually."

Control Methods:

  • 1080 Poisoning:  is the preferred method of initial control for economically and efficiently reducing a pig population.  The correct bait material free-fed prior to poisoning is a necessity.
  • Trapping:  is recommended for secondary control following poison baits.  It is an excellent alternative where baits can't be used due to distance restrictions or in highly populated areas, particularly where there are smaller numbers of pigs.
  • Ground Shooting:  is more suited to opportunistic 'mopping up' following other control techniques.  Uncoordinated use of ground shooting and dogs can disrupt more effective control programs.

Landholders are encouraged to contact a North Coast Local Land Services Biosecurity Officer on 1300 795 299 for advice and assistance to control pigs and other vertebrate pests.

Image: Feral pigs identified by surveillance camera

Media contact:          Dean Chamberlain, Team Leader – Invasive Specie
                                         0427 458 590 or dean.chamberlain@lls.nsw.gov.au