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Fighting Feral Pigs

Posted by Bestprac on Mar 13 2013

Meat and Livestock Australia

Researchers suggest populations of feral pigs can triple each year during good seasons if not controlled.

Increasing feral pig populations threaten Australia’s agricultural viability, biosecurity and environment, but a number of control measures have been developed with support from MLA.

Invasive Animals CRC Field Research Officer, Jason Wishart, has spent the past five years working on projects advancing feral pig control.

He says recent good seasons have seen feral pig populations escalate, with anecdotal evidence that some sheep producers are losing up to half their lambs to pigs.

“Feral pigs are highly destructive and it’s not just sheep producers who are impacted,” he said.

“Grain growers, fruit and sugar cane growers and other livestock producers are all affected through product loss or damage, pasture competition and destruction and damage to infrastructure.”

Feral pigs threaten natural habitat and are also carriers of serious diseases such as leptospirosis, brucellosis, sparaganosis, tuberculosis and others that are dangerous to humans as well as livestock.

According to the Department of Primary Industries Victoria, research has suggested that during a relatively good season feral pig numbers can increase three-fold each year.

This is why the development of more effective, target-specific controls has been so important.

MLA, the Invasive Animals CRC, Animal Control Technologies Australia (ACTA) and the Bureau of Rural Sciences are collaboratively trialling some world-first technologies to get on top of the problem. Here are some of the tools available now or under development:

HogHopper™

Launched in 2010, HogHopper™ is a light-weight, aluminium, box-shaped trap, with lift doors on either side that harnesses the pigs’ natural feeding behaviour to gain access to the bait.

“Producers and public land managers have really embraced this device – ACTA sold more than 300 units in the first 12 months,” Jason said.

“Baits are kept drier and fresher for longer, which increases uptake and effectiveness of baiting. HogHopper™ also reduces labour input and costs as the device only needs to be checked periodically.”

PIGOUT®

Available since 2008, PIGOUT® is a 1080-based bait matrix. It is particularly targeted at omnivores and has intentionally been made less attractive to carnivores and herbivores.

It features a thick, non-toxic outer layer that helps reduce non-target uptake and increases its resilience, making it suitable for deployment by air.

A feature of PIGOUT® is that the high dose of poison required to kill a feral pig is localised within the bait’s core.

PIGOUT® Econobaits

PIGOUT® Econobaits (1080) are designed for use in the HogHopper™ as they are much smaller than their parent product PIGOUT® and do not contain the poison core.

Their reduced size and simplified method of toxin delivery aims to help producers lower their control costs.

PIGOUT® Econobaits are expected to be commercially available during 2014.

HOGGONE®

HOGGONE® is pig bait based on the food preservative sodium nitrite, commonly used in salami and corn beef. It works by oxidising haemoglobin in red blood cells, which stops them carrying oxygen.

Pigs are particularly susceptible to sodium nitrite. It has several advantages over 1080-based baits including the availability of an antidote (Methylene Blue) in cases of accidental poisoning.

It is also considered more humane than 1080 poisoning, with a shorter time between consumption and death.

HOGGONE® is being developed and prototypes of the bait have achieved feral pig population knockdowns of between 65% and 90%.

Jason says further testing is required and product registration with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) before being commercially available.

Nitrite Concentrate

This product has the flexibility to be applied to grain and other bait types. Field trials are about to start and, with good results, a registration application will be submitted to the APVMA. This product could also be available for sale by 2014.

Last changed: Mar 14 2013

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