FERAL PIGS (Sus scrofa)
Populations of feral pigs throughout Blackwood Biosecurity’s Recognised Area are expanding as are their impacts on agriculture, the natural environment, lifestyle and human wellbeing.
Predation, disease transmission, habitat degradation and competition by feral pigs are all listed as a key threatening process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Feral pigs damage agricultural infrastructure and production, natural ecosystems and biodiversity, cause erosion and allow the establishment of exotic weeds.
They can spread the dieback pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi. They carry endemic diseases such as leptospirosis and brucellosis and are potential carriers of exotic diseases (such as swine fever and foot and mouth disease) some of which can not only spread to domestic pigs, other livestock and native animals, but also to humans.
Pig hunters’ dogs in the eastern states have been found to have contracted Brucellosis from eating raw feral pig meat. Infected dogs can infect humans and domestic dogs and there are concerns about the movement of exposed dogs into Western Australia.
Feral Pigs are adaptable and opportunistic and can survive in a very wide range of landscapes.
Much of our operational area provides them with habitats in which they can thrive.
They can breed all year round with an efficiency similar to rabbits with early sexual maturity and large litter sizes. Sows can successfully mate again when piglets are weaned at 2 to 3 months.
Feral Pig numbers are often underestimated due to their intelligence and cryptic nature.
Effective management is expensive and time consuming. Cost of effective control is often beyond the capacity of single landholders and needs to be a collaborative effort on a landscape scale that includes private landowners, industry and government agencies.
Illegal pig release, translocation and hunting further compounds the problem, costs and risks.
Photo Credit: P. Adams