Tack­ling fer­als

Central and North Rural Weekly - - NEWS -

LAND­HOLD­ERS are stay­ing one step ahead of feral pests on the Western Downs.

It’s been one of the big­gest col­lab­o­ra­tive projects of its kind: to com­bat the prob­lem of feral pests across one of Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­tural heart­lands, and Western Downs land­hold­ers are thrilled to be chalk­ing up the wins.

Western Downs Re­gional Coun­cil spokesper­son for en­vi­ron­ment and plan­ning, Cr An­drew Smith said the Pests, Part­ner­ships and Peo­ple Power in the Western Downs pro­gram, funded un­der the Queens­land Feral Pest Ini­tia­tive, was on track for an­other record feral pig cull across the re­gion.

The suc­cess fol­lows on from the award-win­ning 2016 cam­paign that saw a mas­sive 11,000 feral pigs de­stroyed.

“The dam­age pests such as feral pigs and wild dogs do to crops and live­stock is enor­mous and it’s only by band­ing to­gether in a pro­gram such as this that we can man­age those im­pacts,” Cr Smith said.

“Our cur­rent pro­gram in­volves 555 land­hold­ers, and that’s given us a sweep­ing ef­fect across the district that’s proven re­ally ef­fi­cient.

“To date, we’ve de­stroyed 6233 pigs and 344 wild dogs and we are only half­way through.

“It’s been a huge suc­cess for the whole of the Western Downs and it’s an im­proved re­sult of where we were at the same half­way point in our last ini­tia­tive.”

Land­holder Tris­tan Nitschke of the Me and arr a-Hanna ford Con­damine Pest Man­age­ment Group said the ini­tia­tive was in­valu­able to an agri­cul­tural hub such as the Western Downs.

“Key to the suc­cess of this pro­ject is the par­tic­i­pa­tion of land­hold­ers and it’s good to see peo­ple get­ting on board,” he said.

“We’ve had very good sup­port from the coun­cil and other groups and stake­hold­ers as well.

“Feral pigs and wild dogs cause huge eco­nomic loss and there’s also an un­der­ly­ing biose­cu­rity risk for live­stock pro­duc­ers as well so we re­ally hope this pro­gram will con­tinue.

“It’s re­duced the pig

❝It’s only by band­ing to­gether in a pro­gram such as this that we can man­age those im­pacts. — Cr An­drew Smith

prob­lem in the Me and arr a Hanna ford area to the point where it’s now man­age­able, and that’s made a huge dif­fer­ence to liveli­hoods of farm­ers.”

The Western Downs re­gion has led the way with feral pest man­age­ment, achiev­ing some of the best re­sults in

Queens­land thanks to a strate­gic ap­proach that com­bines ae­rial shoots, trap­ping and sur­veil­lance of prob­lem pests.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

PATH OF DE­STRUC­TION: Feral pigs on the Western Downs in Queens­land.

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