Feral pigs attacking humans, killing livestock and destroying crops as numbers explode in NSW

Feral pigs attacking humans, killing livestock and destroying crops as numbers explode in NSW

Feral pigs are back in big numbers across north-west New South Wales and there are reports the pests are killing sheep and charging at humans.

The situation has led to calls from the NSW Farmers Association for the state government to provide extra funding and resources to tackle feral pigs.

Association president and Mullaley farmer Xavier Martin said he was worried about rising numbers across the state and believed populations in the north-west were the the largest he had seen.

“What I’m seeing is more and more in the paddock, in the creeks and the dams, and more on the road at night,” he said.

“I’ve been charged and up-ended off my motorbike.

“A woman just west of us, I heard, was charged at the clothesline.

“There’s an extraordinary number — they’re killing lambing ewes and the same with calving cows.”

Xavier Martin estimates $100m is needed to get the pests under control.(ABC News: Lani Oataway)

‘Need the whole hog’

A culling program run by Local Land Services was launched in October last year after a $13-million cash injection from the NSW government.

Mr Martin said that was welcome but not enough.

“Unless we can control 80 per cent of these animals, they’re out breeding,” he said.

“The rate at which sows reproduce is just outclassing our ability to control them.”

Mr Martin said it would take more than $100-million to get the problem under control.

“We’re really just getting little bits of bacon and we need the whole hog,” he said.

Litters of feral pigs are frequently found on rural properties.(Supplied: Eunice Vivers)

69,000 pigs culled

Bec Gray was appointed feral pig coordinator of NSW Local Land Services in October last year with the goal of culling at least 87,000 of the pests by June.

She said significant progress had been made but there was more work to be done.

“So far we have managed to remove 69,000-odd feral pigs from the environment,” Ms Gray said.

She said 36 aerial shooting programs had been launched and another 10 were planned for the coming months.

Tens of thousands of feral pigs have been culled, but the target is yet to be met and the pests are breeding prolifically.(ABC News: Brendan Mounter)

Ms Gray said the organisation was facing an uphill battle because warm and moist weather conditions were helping the invasive pest repopulate more easily.

“These last few years have been really favourable conditions for feral pig reproduction,” she said.

“The control efforts really need to increase in line with that population growth and that’s what we are trying to achieve with this program.”

Tony Lockrey says pig numbers appear to be at a 40-year high.(ABC Landline: Sean Murphy)

‘Definitely the worst’

Moree agronomist and part-time pest controller Tony Lockrey said the numbers were the worst he had seen in his 18 years living in the district.

“In talking to some of the older chopper pilots, they’re definitely the worst they’ve seen for 40 years,” he said.

“The biggest thing that’s changed is that we’ve had consistent seasons — that has supplied them with very healthy food, good cover and plenty of water.”

Mr Lockrey says crops such as sorghum are being damaged by feral pigs.(Supplied)

On the Northern Tablelands, Inverell farmer Angus Vivers said the pest had been a significant problem for the last two years and that populations on his farm were exploding again.

“Over February, March we’ve seen a lot of pigs running over the place,” he said.

“It’s over such a wide area of country of New South Wales.

“I’ve got friends down south with pigs.”

Both men agreed that more funding was needed.

“There are a some key areas that I think need work,” Mr Lockrey said.

“One is better coordination, and funding will definitely move us in that direction.”

Mr Vivers said teamwork would be the key.

“I think we just have to keep working all together,” he said.

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