ABOVE: Gympie Regional Council staff Wendy Thorsborn and Ben Curley hold the latest in wild dog traps.INSET: Ag-force’s Damien Ferguson, special projects officer, and regional manager Sarah Due with Mothar Mountain’s Marcus Pignata.
ABOVE: Gympie Regional Council staff Wendy Thorsborn and Ben Curley hold the latest in wild dog traps.INSET: Ag-force’s Damien Ferguson, special projects officer, and regional manager Sarah Due with Mothar Mountain’s Marcus Pignata. Contributed

Farmers to tackle feral pigs head on

A SERIES of three feral animal control forums held at Wolvi, Tansey and Kandanga recently gave landholders throughout the Gympie region the opportunity to hear the latest control measures.

The council's lands protection officer, Ben Curley, said the forums were part of a State Government grant project.

"Funding was made available in drought-affected areas that have a feral animal problem," he said.

"The biggest two problems in the council area are wild dogs and feral pigs."

The rural group Ag-force has also been heavily involved and special projects officer Damien Ferguson said pigs on some macadamia farms in the area could eat up to $60 worth of nuts per pig per night.

"Farmers have been forced out of business in some places," he said.

"Others have had to spend large sums of money undertaking control measures."

Mr Ferguson said that it is not only a crop that is destroyed but also a lot of small wildlife such as burrowing frogs.

"They foul waterways and are implicated in spreading some serious diseases to humans," he said.

"Leptospirosis, brucellosis and ross river fever, very serious and sometimes fatal diseases are carried and spread by wild pig populations."

Mr Ferguson said that on one macadamia farm every tree in the orchard had mud mark rubs on the trunk.

He said control measures range from shooting, trapping, baiting and exclusion fencing.

"Shooting works if there are only a few pigs," he said.

"It needs neighbour and beyond co-operation, otherwise they just move next door for a while."

For best results exclusion fencing uses "ringlock" type wire with barb and a hot wire nearer the ground, plus a wire mesh apron on the ground on the outside of the fence.

Mr Ferguson said trapping could be effective but had to be properly planned and implemented.

"Traps have to be strong enough and high enough to get a whole family in rather than just one or two," he said.

"Shooting the old boar may be a good trophy but does little to keep numbers down."

Traps need to provide a free feed for a period to get the pigs used to coming.

With a feed station at the opposite side to the entrance a number of pigs can enter before a trip wire quietly shuts the gate.

Alternatively a swing gate that only allows pigs in but not out can be used.

"The gates have to shut quietly against foam or plastic pipe," Mr Ferguson said. "If a gate swings shut metal to metal the sound can spook pigs to leave the trap area for a short time."

Camera surveillance is very useful and can be linked to a PC so that the gate can be shut when the trap has a lot of pigs inside.

Mr Ferguson said that the Gympie Council and MRCCC have pig traps and can provide information and techniques.