Il­le­gal pig re­lease threat to farm­ing

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY - By JON MOR­GAN

Agroup of wild pigs have been il­le­gally re­leased by hunters in bush at Raglan, prompt­ing fears of an out­break of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis.

Wild pigs can carry TB, ac­cord­ing to the An­i­mal Health Board.

They have the po­ten­tial to in­fect ar­eas in which the ex­ist­ing wildlife pop­u­la­tion is free of the dis­ease, par­tic­u­larly if hunters leave the head and of­fal in the bush.

Pos­sums and fer­rets scav­eng­ing on this ma­te­rial can be­come in­fected and spread the dis­ease to cat­tle and deer.

The Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion says it will do ‘‘what­ever is nec­es­sary’’ to stop the pigs be­com­ing es­tab­lished and dam­ag­ing na­tive plants.

Neigh­bour­ing farmer Phillip Swann, who op­er­ates a 200-hectare beef and sheep prop­erty, said he had re­cently seen an in­flux of wild pigs around his farm, an area pre­vi­ously cleared of TB in wild an­i­mals.

‘‘As a beef farmer, I have a lot to lose if TB rears its head in this area. Peo­ple need to con­sider the pos­si­ble con­se­quences of trans­port­ing and re­leas­ing wild pigs that could well be car­ry­ing the dis­ease.

‘‘It’s about ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple who re­lease th­ese pigs that enough is enough.

‘‘We’re talk­ing about farm­ers’ liveli­hoods here which could be threat­ened if TB was in­tro­duced,’’ he said.

The board’s north­ern North Is­land pro­gramme man­ager, Brent Web­ster, said hunters should also be aware of the risks when han­dling in­fected wild pigs.

Hu­mans can get TB from in­fected an­i­mals or their car­casses.

‘‘You should al­ways prac­tise good hy­giene when hunt­ing wild pigs, in­clud­ing dis­in­fect­ing all knives and other gear af­ter use, cover any cuts on your hands and arms and wash af­ter cut­ting up an­i­mals.’’

DOC Waikato man­ager Matt Cook said the de­lib­er­ate re­lease of pigs into con­ser­va­tion parks and re­serves was an of­fence un­der both the Re­serves Act and the Wild An­i­mal Con­trol Act.

‘‘The depart­ment has spent a great deal of time and ef­fort over many years clear­ing wild goats, feral cat­tle and other pests from Mt Kar­ioi – part of the Piron­gia For­est Park – due to the ex­ten­sive dam­age they in­flict on our na­tive species,’’ he said.

Fair­fax NZ

FARM THREAT: Wild pigs sim­i­lar to this one are be­lieved to have been re­leased in bush at Raglan.

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