A mysterious outbreak of feral pigs in regional South Australia could be linked to illegal hunting activities, environment management authorities say.
- Landscape officers have deployed cameras, built traps, laid baits and shot animals to stamp out the outbreak
- People are being urged to report sightings or those suspected of illegally releasing pigs
- Domestic pigs in SA must be confined to differentiate them from feral animals
About 20 feral pigs have been captured on farming properties in the Kingston area on the Limestone Coast.
The outbreak is considered unusual given that the only known feral pig population in the region is across the Victorian border and there are no known registered domestic pigs at farms in the immediate area.
“One of the possible explanations is for hunting purposes, ” Limestone Coast Landscape Board operations manager Mike Stevens said.
Mr Stevens said a preliminary compliance investigation had been undertaken into the origin of the animals.
He said the suspicion was that the animals were illegally released.
“Any support and assistance we could have from the community to shed any further light would be greatly appreciated,” he said.
Economic impact ‘significant’
The Landscape Board was approached by a farmer seeking help with feral pigs on his property.
“Landscape officers worked with the farmer to build traps, deploy poison bait, and set up remote digital cameras and do surveillance of the of the property,” Mr Stevens said.
He said the pests had a significant impact on farm operations and the environment.
“We set up remote digital cameras and we’re confident we’ve removed the animals in that immediate area,” Mr Stevens said.
He said farmers should watch for damage to crops and pastures.
“This is one of the signs people can look for — pigs plough paddocks quite significantly and quite different to maybe some native species you might see for domestic cow or bull,” Mr Stevens said.
Hefty penalties apply
In South Australia, there are substantial penalties associated with the movement, sale, possession, and release of pigs into the landscape, with individuals receiving penalties of up to $125,000 or imprisonment for two years.
Landholders are also responsible for destroying feral pigs on their land.
According to the Landscape Board, feral pigs eat native plants, pasture and crops, damage soils in wetlands, grasslands and forest.
They also eat native animals and lambs, reduce water quality, damage fences, and have significant potential to spread diseases.
Moreover, feral pigs attract illegal hunters on private and public land.
“I applaud the affected farmers for their efforts to quickly contact the Limestone Coast Landscape Board to ensure a rapid response to the outbreak,” Mr Stevens said.
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