Feral pig management

Feral pig populations can be both stationary and transient. Weather conditions and food availability affect the movement of feral pigs throughout a landscape. Feral pigs home range is determined by habitat type, food supply, size of individual animals and population density. In many habitats there is a seasonal trend of movement between specific areas depending on the current food supply. Even if disturbed, feral pigs will not move far and will readily return to their home ranges.

As a landholder, controlling feral pigs on your property is your responsibility.

Local Land Services is currently delivering the 2023/24, $13 million Feral Pig Program on behalf of the NSW Government in response to widespread numbers of feral pigs across NSW.

Feral pigs and biosecurity

Under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 every landholder has a General Biosecurity Duty to reduce risks caused by feral pigs by undertaking control activities.

Feral pigs are an invasive species introduced to Australia as domestic livestock.

A pig can be identified as being feral if it:

  • was born or has lived in the wild
  • demonstrates wild and erratic behaviour
  • is not domesticated
  • has long coarse hair, an elongated snout, or sloping hindquarters.

Impact of feral pigs

Feral pigs cause damage to crops, pastures, water holes, fencing and can cause significant economic losses to agricultural production through predation of livestock, disease introduction and environmental damage.

Feral pigs create significant soil disturbance, altering drainage, increasing turbidity and sedimentation and greatly assisting the spread of weeds.

Feral pigs can also carry disease and parasites that affect stock and pose a disease risk to humans (eg brucellosis). They are a major potential host of a number of exotic diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease.

Feral pig control methods

There are many methods available for the control of feral pigs including 1080 baiting, trapping, exclusion fencing, aerial and ground shooting.

As with any pest control program, a single method of control used in isolation may only provide limited control of pig populations.

A coordinated program involving neighbours and multiple control methods will prove more successful. Hear from landholders across NSW who are doing this with great success.

Baiting – primary control

Baiting using Sodium fluoroacetate (1080) is an option for some peri-urban and rural properties where the Pesticide Control Order (PCO) allows. It is a primary control for feral pigs. Landholders must hold relevant chemical qualifications to use poisons in NSW.

A particular PCO consideration is distance restrictions, which require bait to be laid at least:

  • 150m from your own habitation
  • 500m from another habitation
  • 20m from a domestic water supply
  • 5m off a boundary fence.

Baiting should be done in bait sites, in areas where pigs are known to feed. Free feeding prior to poisoning is essential to attract as many pigs as possible to the area. It also gives an estimate of how much bait is needed and the ability to monitor the feed uptake to ensure no non-target animals are impacted.

Aerial shooting – primary control

Aerial shooting is generally organised by NSW State Government however some private companies offer this service. Aerial shooting targets populations as a whole and is recognised as a highly effective control technique in quickly reducing feral pig populations.

Shooting is only effective when you are confident you will shoot all the pigs at once and can be useful when there are only a few pigs or as a follow up method to other methods.

Ground shooting – secondary control

Ground shooting is an option in rural areas and some peri-urban areas. Rules around firearms use apply. Landholders can shoot feral pigs on their properties. Professional licenced shooters can undertake ground shooting in any landscape on a landholders behalf.

You must be very careful when dealing with pigs as they are easily frightened and will be scared away from a site if disturbed. If pigs are disturbed, they will move into new areas and cause more damage.

Trapping – secondary control

Trapping is an effective control technique for catching large numbers of feral pigs. When undertaken consistently and properly it can reduce population numbers dramatically. This technique is used where the 1080 PCO conditions cannot be met or the off target risk is too high. Trapping is also an effective follow up control after a 1080 baiting program or an aerial shoot.

Trap designs will vary on landscape and pig density and can range from large silo traps to smaller panel traps to suit landholder needs and increase effectiveness. Traps need to be checked every 24 hours. Livestock should be removed from the area so they don’t eat the feed from the trap.

Private professional pest controllers are available to undertake this work on a landholders behalf. Local Land Services can provide traps to landholders but a landholder will need a firearm to humanely destroy the animal.

Fencing – Preventative measure

Feral pig proof fencing can be installed around assets such as domestic pigs or areas of high conservation priority. Maintenance is essential to effective fencing.

Feral pig control video series

To learn more about your options and the best feral pig control methods for your situation, watch our series on feral pig management.

Create a feral pig management plan

Effective control of local feral pig populations can be achieved, although it may take weeks to a few months. These efforts will need to be followed up when populations re-establish the area. A broad landscape approach can achieve long term gains and bring feral pig numbers down to manageable levels.

Assess your property

Start by identifying and mapping the location of feral pigs and the extent of their impact on your property. Discuss with your neighbours your concerns and gauge feral pig impacts they are experiencing.

Things to look for include:

  • sightings
  • predation of lambs
  • rooting (digging of soil for underground food such as roots and bulbs)
  • crop and fence damage
  • pads (a feral pig game trail)
  • tracks and scats
  • wallows (indentations in waterbodies)
  • mud rubs and tusk marks on vegetation and infrastructure
  • nests.

Set goals

Work with your neighbours to determine what resources (e.g. time, money and expertise) you have and what you want to achieve. Prepare an action plan. Start with short term goals (for a 12-month program) and how you will continue an ongoing program to ensure that the impacts are mitigated.

Work together

In discussion with your neighbours/community, consider joining or starting formalised groups such as Landcare or pest control associations. There are many resources available online to assist landholders increase their knowledge of feral pigs and their control.

Local Land Services can provide technical advice and training to any landholders and can loan out feral pig traps, provide 1080 training and poisoned bait.

Contact LLS for help

Consult your nearest LLS Biosecurity Officer who has the knowledge and experience to assist you to manage feral pigs and other invasive species by:

  • providing advice
  • supplying baits and traps
  • assisting with coordinating baiting programs
  • becoming involved with other control techniques such as trapping programs

For more information on pest species and biosecurity, visit Pestsmart and the Department of Primary Industries.

Local Land Services is currently delivering the 2023/24, $13 million Feral Pig Program on behalf of the NSW Government in response to widespread numbers of feral pigs across NSW.

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