New bait holds hope in feral pig control

INSIDE THE BOX: Traps can be effective but have to be prepared correctly. Here Ben Curley, Gympie Regional Council, demonstrates the use of a trap that is available for landholders to borrow that breaks down into an easily transportable flat pack.
INSIDE THE BOX: Traps can be effective but have to be prepared correctly. Here Ben Curley, Gympie Regional Council, demonstrates the use of a trap that is available for landholders to borrow that breaks down into an easily transportable flat pack. Contributed

THE first session of the feral pig control field day dealt with the problems facing growers in the macadamia industry.

The second phase dealt with the all important "What can be done?".

Ben Curley, of the Gympie Regional Council, said control measures had to be adapted to suit each farm.

"Shooting and baiting are restricted in relation to where they can be done," he said.

"Trapping and exclusion fencing can be carried out in more closely settled areas."

Mr Curley said the council had a flat pack feral pig trap that could be used by landholders.

Biosecurity Queensland 1080 bait trainer Pedro Hogden based at Toowoomba said the dose for feral pigs was about 12 times that required for feral dogs.

"This higher dose rate can present problems," he said.

"Pigs are often hard to get to take baits because once they are on a food source, such as a nut crop, they do not tend to look at other food."

It was said that a different bait to which pigs were very susceptible was going through the approval stages.

This bait may mean that it can be used in more closely settled areas and it may solve many of the issues with 1080.

While baiting, trapping and shooting all have some degree of success, control effectiveness can diminish over time as the feral pigs become used to whatever method or combination of methods used.

In most cases growers have eventually come to realise exclusion is the most effective way to go.

The Campbell farm at Ridgewood, on which the field day was held, has installed exclusion fencing described by Sam Cambell as the "Rolls Royce job".

"We were so annoyed at the damage being done and wanted a final solution," he said.

"Our costs were high and I have no doubt a pig-proof fence could be built for a lot less but it works, which was the main aim."

The Campbell fence cost about $9000 per kilometre and is made of 8:80:15 pig netting, with round strainers every 100m and at the bottom of gullies, steel pickets every 5m and a couple of gates.

An electric wire has been placed about 300m high and 300mm out along the entire fence.

The fence was built by a contractor and this amounted to about half the costs.

Mr Cambell offered the benefit of his experience in saying don't put the fence under eucalyptus trees because of falling branches.

"To avoid any neighbour disputes we put the fence a metre into our property," he said.

"We also spray weeds along the line when necessary."

The electric fence energiser is one designed for 70km but used on only 3km to ensure maximum shock at all times. Growers present estimated that a cost of not much more than $2000 per km could be achieved and at this price it is not much more than a tonne of nuts.

Topics:  biosecurity, feral animals, feral pigs



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