Feral pig control – a story of patience and perseverance

aerial image of the Lower Cotter Catchment

For well over 30 years we have been luring pigs.

Enticing them with a concoction of fermenting grain, a tantalising taste a feral pig finds appetising. This annual exercise coincides as pigs move down from the mountains as winter sets in order to seek sustenance in the lowlands.

As part of an integrated pest control plan, this highly acclaimed program is making a tangible difference here in our bush capital.

The aim is a simple one: to minimise the total impact of feral pigs across the landscape. Found in large parts of Australia, feral pigs are a blight on the productivity of farm land and the ecological values of our parks and reserves.

Pigs have the potential to spread disease, to damage our water catchments, to disperse weeds.

Once lured into a feeding frenzy on fermented grain, a lethal substitute is switched to ensure an effective kill. Refined over many years, built on experience, and utilising remote area cameras, our pig control program is designed to be target specific. It represents best practice pest control in a huge landscape.

As a young Ranger I have vivid memories of spending many hours traversing the length and breadth of Namadgi National Park contributing to this program. Commencing in 1985 it is said to be the longest continuous pig control program anywhere in Australia. It is a huge operation, involving remote area surveillance to determine areas of pig activity, helicopters and hundreds of hours of staff time to distribute over 1000 feed stations across the 106,000 hectares of the park –which is almost half the total area of the ACT.

From its inception, research monitoring indicates that both the total numbers of pigs and their damage within the park has been significantly reduced. Along with concerted efforts in managing other pest species such as rabbits, our pig control program is a vital component in conserving the pristine catchment that provides the ACT’s water supply.

This year we have expanded beyond the borders of Namadgi National Park to work collaboratively with rural landholders to achieve a coordinated cross-tenure approach. Neighbours have been equipped with tools, tips, and appropriate support to effectively control feral pigs on their farms.

This collaboration builds on many years of a highly successful targeted pig control program. After all pigs, like feral horses, don’t recognise land tenure. Working together we can make a real difference in reducing the environmental impacts of pest species here in our beautiful bush capital.

Brett Mac

Brett McNamara - Regional Manager with ACT Parks & Conservation Service

Brett loves our national parks almost as much as the Gang-gang on his uniform. He is prone to using the word 'majestic' when referring to the bush capital. He loves talking. A lot. His favourite animal is the playful platypus.

Article also appeared on 19 June in The Chronicle