Curbing $80 million bill for feral pig damage

Feral pigs cost north Queensland more than $80 million last financial year. They ate our crops, killed our livestock and spread deadly diseases. NQ Dry Tropics has launched a series of free resources to help North Queenslanders catch and control the Feral Pig. The practical resources come as a series of in-depth handbooks and a video showing real locals having real results in the fight against this pest in the Burdekin Dry Tropics region. 

NQ Dry Tropics Regional Pest Management Officer Byron Kearns says the free resources are designed to save landholders time and money when managing feral pig damage to their crops, livestock and family’s health.

“Feral pigs are a huge problem. Experts have estimated a cost of $80 to $100 million every year to North Queensland’s agricultural industry alone. Most landholders in our region are managing the problems caused by feral pigs; however no one standalone technique is best on its own.”

“With these books we wanted to provide accurate factual information to landholders on the advantages and disadvantages of poisoning, hunting, trapping and fencing, helping them choose the right range of techniques that suit their situation and budget.”

Mr Kearns warns the feral pig problem should not be left to farmers and graziers to deal with.

“The feral pig problem affects everyone, from the grazier whose calves are being killed, to the grower whose produce is being dug up. What many people don’t realise is that feral pigs can carry a huge number of endemic diseases that threaten not only our livestock and our native species, but people as well.”

Charters Towers zoologist and feral pig expert Dr Jim Mitchell, who worked with NQ Dry Tropics to produce the resources, agrees. He warns the feral pig problem could end up costing the region much more.

“Just about any disease that humans can get, feral pigs can get as well, and transmit,” Dr Mitchell said, pointing to Ross River Fever and Foot and Mouth Disease as two of the worst diseases spread by feral pigs.
“It is estimated that if Foot and Mouth disease gets into Australia we could lose up to $9 billion in the first year of the disease outbreak.”

Charters Towers potato growers Michael and Natasha Penna shared their management strategy with NQ Dry Tropics after losing thousands of dollars due to feral pig damage.

“One time we had what would have been approximately 50 pigs come digging one night,” Mr Penna explained. “They would’ve cleaned up at least a couple of acres of potatoes that we’d just freshly planted. That sort of equates to probably about 50 tonnes of produce that I didn’t sell that year due to feral pigs. That’s about $20,000 just like that,” he said.

The resources form part of NQ Dry Tropics’ Regional Pest Management program aimed at supporting land managers in the 24/7 fight against weeds and feral animals. They have been distributed through local councils and are available to view online.

View the Feral Pig Resources
View other handbooks in the series
Join the discussion