$1 million to eradicate feral pigs
A $1 MILLION blitzkrieg on the Queensland feral pig will begin in a few weeks as the State Government moves to protect the nation's banana crop from a potentially devastating biosecurity threat.
With 2460 pigs culled in the past 12 months, the Queensland Government will radically ramp up efforts to remove North Queensland's feral pig menace once and for all.
Banana and cane grower organisations, the Cassowary Coast Council, the Defence Department, the Terrain Natural Resource Management Group and the departments of Environment and Science, Natural Resources and Mines and Energy are all co-operating in the venture expected to take three years across the Tully, Johnson and Murray River catchments.
Baiting, trapping, aerial shooting and remote camera monitoring will all be used in the pig offensive to be announced by the Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development, Mark Furner.
"This timely co-operation is a great boost in our bid to get on top of the feral pig menace in the region,'' he said. "There will be ongoing, on-ground monitoring to determine the impact of the eradication and control measures.''
With a $1 million bankroll, the program, which will include a $40,000 budget for an aerial shooting program, is likely to attract the attention of animal rights activists.
Queensland MP Shane Knuth and his Katter's Australian Party federal counterpart Bob Katter came under fire last week after a picture was posted on social media showing the MPs with a pile of feral pigs shot near Innisfail.
Online criticism labelled the politicians "disgusting" and "arrogant pigs killing pigs" while some commentators suggested hunters habitually "release more pigs into the wild when they run out of targets".
The State Government's chief concern, which has prompted this cull, is the potential spread of Panama disease tropical race 4 - a soil- borne fungus which can be spread by animals as dirt and mud sticks to their bodies.
"Bananas are synonymous with Far North Queensland,'' Mr Furner said.
"Around 95 per cent of Australia's total banana production comes from Queensland, so it's vital that we protect this crop from disease.
"Biosecurity is everyone's business, but the
Palaszczuk Government is doing everything it can to support industries impacted by the introduction of foreign pests and diseases.
One State Government estimate puts the nation's feral pig population at 24 million with suggestions around 2 million are roaming north Queensland.
The Australian Banana Growers' Council, expected to give a warm welcome to Mr Furner's initiative, has already formed its own feral pig management plan which includes an aerial pig shooting program.
ABGC director and Far Northern banana producer Leon Collins said the pigs were in plague proportions.
"People don't realise what sort of pig pressure we've had,'' he said. "In the last two years, it has blown out of control.''