What are feral pigs?
Feral pigs are an invasive species that was introduced to Australia as domestic livestock.
Feral pig populations are found throughout New South Wales and are most prevalent in the northern and western areas of the state.
They prefer to live in wetland, floodplain and watercourse environments.
Why are they a pest?
Feral pigs can cause severe damage to the environment. They are considered a pest because they:
- hunt native animals, including frogs, reptiles, birds and small mammals
- eat native plants – selectively over-grazing on specific plant communities and causing damage to native vegetation through trampling
- cause soil erosion through digging for food – particularly along drainage lines and around swamps and lagoons or after rain when the ground is softer
- contaminate water sources by wallowing in dams, waterholes and other moist or swampy areas
- create drainage channels in swamps and can destabilise stream banks
- spread weeds and disease – feral pigs carry endemic diseases such as leptospirosis, brucellosis and melioidosis and are a potential host of foot and mouth disease, should it ever be introduced into Australia.
- prey on new-born lambs, eat and destroy grain crops and pastures, and damage fences.
Predation, habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission by feral pigs has been listed by the NSW Scientific Committee as a key threatening process in NSW.
Managing feral pigs in our national parks
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has developed control programs for parks and reserves where feral pigs pose a significant problem. Many of these programs are carried out with local landholders and other government or non-government agencies such as Local Land Services (LLS).
As feral pigs are widespread, we focus on the reduction of impacts in priority areas. Management of feral pigs for the protection of threatened species is prioritised through the our regional pest management strategies and Saving our Species (SOS) program.
Aerial shooting using helicopters is extremely effective and can result in a rapid and substantial reduction in pig numbers. Ground shooting is labour intensive but can produce good results if control programs are well planned and the effort is maintained.
Trapping can be an effective method for pig control, but resources need to be allocated to regularly checking traps and despatching pigs.
Baiting using “pigout” and grain is also used in many areas across NSW, however some effort must be put into free-feeding to get the pigs accustomed to the bait matrix prior to the poison being applied.