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Action taken to cull feral pigs

PIG WATCH: Queensland Murray-Darling Committee weeds and pest animals technical officer Tom Garrett with a thermal camera used to monitor feral pigs.
PIG WATCH: Queensland Murray-Darling Committee weeds and pest animals technical officer Tom Garrett with a thermal camera used to monitor feral pigs. Lucy Killip

AS FAR as pest animals go, feral pigs are among the worst.

Queensland Murray-Darling Committee is working with catchment groups and landholders to take a hit at the booming Maranoa feral pig population.

With the help of two helicopters and three thermal cameras, more than 600 feral pigs were killed during 50 hours of shooting last week.

The committee's weeds and pest animals technical officer Tom Garrett said feral pig numbers south of Mitchell had dropped 96% in the past year.

"Feral pigs are a real problem, especially after three good seasons, which have boosted breeding and survival rates," Mr Garrett said.

"They can have up to 13 or 14 in a litter and with good seasons, they all survive."

Feral pigs cause devastation to the native environment, kill livestock and can spread diseases to other animals - even humans.

Mr Garrett said using trained marksmen to shoot feral pigs from helicopters was an easy way of dropping their numbers rapidly.

Blood samples were collected during the cull and will be tested for diseases.

Improvements had been made to monitoring systems, which helped culling efforts.

These included the development of an application to work in conjunction with thermal cameras to count pest animal numbers.

A community action grant funded the cull, along with money contributed by landholders.

A baiting program is under way, which targets feral pigs and wild dogs by using baits buried under the ground.

Two baiting programs are run each year in the Maranoa, but the committee would like to see it increased to four.

Mr Garrett said boars became heavy predators as they matured and killed and ate up to six lambs or young goats a night.

Since 1865, feral pigs have been part of the Queensland landscape, with the population somewhere between four and six million.

Topics:  1080 baiting biosecurity feral pigs wild dogs