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Feral Pig

History

Pigs were first introduced into Australia when the First Fleet arrived.  There are records that there were 49 animals in the colony in 1788.  Pigs were taken to Australia as a source of food.  Feral pigs are found from western Victoria, through New South Wales into Queensland and across northern Australia.

Why they were introduced

Pigs were brought to Australia as a source of food.  The early Europeans were not familiar with the Australian environment.  They didn’t know what was safe to eat, so they brought their own food sources until they could figure out how to work the land. 

Problems

Pigs damage Australian ecosystems.  Being omnivores, they eat a wide array of things such as ground nesting birds, roots and crocodile eggs.  Many species of birds, such as the endemic woodhen, have disappeared from areas where pigs are found.  Pigs also kill up to 40 percent of lambs born in some areas, which costs the sheep industry millions of dollars each year.  They also wallow and root around swamps and watercourses.  This destroys the vegetation that provides food and nesting sites for other wildlife and prevents erosion.  They also carry diseases, such as foot and mouth disease, that are passed on to the animals they come in contact with.

Control

One form of control that has been used is mustering and shooting the pigs.  The pigs then can be used for their meat.  This has proved effective in the short-term.  Another method of control is the use of poison.  Traps are laid with poisoned grain.  The most commonly used poison is 1080. 

Status

Research is being done to find techniques to minimize the damage of feral pigs on the environment.  Both the shooting and poisoning of pigs has proven effective in reducing the number of pigs in the short term but not in the long term.  The focus is not on eliminating the pigs but just on controlling the number. 

(Above): Pigs were taken to Australia to be used as food.

(Above): Pigs are omnivores, which means that they eat just about anything.

Written By:  Laura Rickman

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