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KI feral pigs face post-bushfire cull

Local

Feral pigs on Kangaroo Island are in the state government’s sights as part of a push to help the island’s environmental recovery following devastating bushfires.

 

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A feral pig count is about to begin, with a cull to follow.

According to PIRSA an estimated 5500 feral pigs roamed the island, mainly within its western flank which was hit hard by the January fires which burned 210,000ha over three weeks.

The fires devastated national parks and wildlife and are believed to have also killed a significant number of feral pigs, but authorities now want to act to eliminate the remainder.

“The hope is that what remains of the population will congregate around water and vegetation sources, making them easier to be identified and taken from the landscape before they have a chance to hinder recovery,” Minister for Environment and Water (DEW) David Speirs said in a statement.

“Aerial reconnaissance will be undertaken this week to survey the remaining feral pig population in our parks on the western end of the island ahead of aerial marksmen and ground staff working to reduce their numbers further.”

After working within parks, the Department for Environment and Water will check private properties, such as timber plantations, for any survivors.

Kangaroo Island Natural Resources Management Board will work with the State Government on the plan.

“Feral pigs will not only churn up the ground and affect soil retention, they can also damage recovering bush, carry pests and diseases and foul water sources, making them a particular menace to recovery,” said the board’s Andrew Heinrich.

Livestock SA CEO Andrew Curtis also backed the move.

“This is an example where hopefully, maybe, something good can come out of a terrible event,” he said.

Photo: AAP/David Mariuz

The cull is supported by the Federal Government’s $50 million commitment to emergency wildlife and habitat recovery, which supports the immediate work of scientists, ecologists, communities and land managers in rebuilding Australia’s natural environments following the bushfires.

Kangaroo Island feral cats are also targeted, with plans to eradicate an estimated 5000-strong population by 2030.

Voluntary biodiversity conservation group, Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife, wrote on Facebook one of the island’s endangered species, the dunnart, had been spotted following the fires but were under threat from the feral cats.

Experts are also concerned of the survival of the island’s endangered Liguarian honey bee and black glossy cockatoo.

The pig cull comes weeks after DEW announced it would kill 4000 to 5000 feral camels in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands after dry conditions sent the animals searching for water in the region’s communities. 

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