Western Riverina Pest Project removes 40,000 feral pigs and wins national award

The Western Riverina Pest Project has been awarded a national Froggatt Award for delivering the largest feral pig control program in Australia.

The project was recognised by the Invasive Species Council in the award category of ‘control and eradication’ for innovative use of emerging technology.

Covering over 1.4 million hectares of privately and publicly owned land, the project has removed 43,608 feral pigs from the Western Riverina region, said Local Land Services Biosecurity Officer, Suzie Holbery.

“The scale of the initial problem was massive, meaning we needed to work together with landholders and a range of public agencies to respond in kind.

‘Landholders in the region reported feral pig numbers rising at an alarming rate, resulting in an increase in stock losses, particularly newborn lambs.

“This burgeoning feral pig population was also threatening fragile wetland ecosystems

“The NSW Farmers branch contacted Local Land Services in the Riverina and Western regions to coordinate a program and implement a targeted strategic plan.’

Work soon began to dramatically reduce the abundance of feral pigs and curbed their rate of reproduction.

“We used helicopter mounted thermal cameras to monitor the impact our work was delivering and very pleased with the result.

“The population density was reduced from a peak of 11.2 pigs per square kilometre in 2017, down to 0.88 pigs in 2020.”

Riverina Local Land Services General Manager, Ray Willis, is also proud of these results and thanked landholders, project partners and staff for their support.

“This work is a collaboration between landholders, Riverina, Western and Murray Local Land Services, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the NSW Department of Primary Industries to meet this emerging environmental threat head on,” Mr Willis said.

“The project also used much innovation and out of the box thinking to control feral pigs and monitor our impact.

“Everything from GPS tracking collars and DNA sampling through to livestock exclusion bait containment yards and thermal camera monitoring were used to protect our local industry and environment.”

“Our appreciation to the Invasive Species Council for their recognition and everyone supporting this work.”

To find out how local Land Services works with the community on pest animal management, visit www.lls.nsw.gov.au

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