Threat abatement plan for predation, habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission by feral pigs

Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2005

Threat abatement plan
ISBN 0 642 54910 9

About the plan

The Threat abatement plan for the predation, habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission by feral pigs sets out a national framework to guide coordinated actions to contain the spread of this threatening process and manage the impact on threatened species and ecological communities as listed under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The plan recognises that feral pigs are but one of a number of other factors that can impact on nationally listed threatened species and ecological communities. Successful management of the environmental threat due to feral pigs requires an integrated approach that also addresses a range of threatening processes and other sustainability issues associated with land management practices.

Feral pigs are common and widely distributed over large expanses of Australia. While their environmental impact is not well quantified, they appear to threaten the long-term survival of a number of species of native plants and animals across Australia. Their impacts may be direct through predation of native animals or consumption of native plants or less direct; for example they have been implicated in the spread of the root-rot fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi.

Eradication, that is the permanent removal of every last pig, with currently available technology, is not possible except on islands and in some local areas. Consequently, management needs to aim for sustainable control of the damage caused by feral pigs, based on current or realistically predicted levels of resources. Knowledge about the biology of pigs, their impact, distribution, social and economic consequences, regulatory controls, management techniques and strategies and research need to be considered.

The plan recognises that community perceptions of feral pigs vary. Feral pigs are viewed as an agricultural pest, an environmental pest, an animal of cultural value, a food resource, a commercial resource, an endemic and exotic disease hazard and a recreational hunting resource. The Plan acknowledges this range of perceptions, and particularly the significant agricultural impacts of pigs. While the actions in the plan will contribute to addressing agricultural impacts, the plan does not set out to be comprehensive in that regard, as the reason for the plan is primarily to abate environmental impacts, in compliance with the EPBC Act. Some of the methods used to control feral pigs also raise animal welfare concerns. While the depth of concern and the range of groups with an interest will vary, a local or regional feral pig management plan is unlikely to be successful unless the full range of interests and concerns are identified and the relevant groups and individuals are fully consulted.

In most cases, managing feral pigs to control their impacts on biodiversity cannot be confined to conservation areas. Consequently, agricultural producers and other key groups and individuals will need to be involved for the successful development, implementation and monitoring of any management plan.

Five main objectives are proposed to manage the threat by feral pigs:

  1. to prevent feral pigs from establishing in areas where they currently do not occur or are in low eradicable numbers, and where they are likely to pose a threat to biodiversity; especially where they would impact on nationally listed threatened species and ecological communities
  2. to integrate feral pig management plans and their implementation into natural resource planning and investment at the regional, state and territory, and national level through consultation and liaison with key stakeholders
  3. to increase awareness and understanding of land managers and the general community about the damage that feral pigs cause and management options
  4. to quantify the impacts feral pigs have on biodiversity (especially nationally listed threatened species and ecological communities) and determine the relationship between feral pig density and the level of damage
  5. to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and humaneness of techniques and strategies for managing the environmental damage due to feral pigs.

It is recommended that, where feasible, an adaptive management approach be adopted for managing feral pigs. The aim is to increase knowledge about the responses of ecosystems and take into account people’s attitudes, and consequently, to progressively improve management programs. Critical elements of this approach are stakeholder consultation, models of how control activities and ecosystems interact, experimental design, monitoring of results, and ongoing review as understanding grows.

Review status

The Minister noted a review of the feral pig threat abatement plan on 14 March 2012. He agreed that the feral pig threat abatement plan not be revised or amended and that a threat abatement advice be developed on the abatement of predation, habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission by feral pigs. A draft threat abatement advice was considered at Threatened Species Scientific Committee meeting in June 2013 and will progress to the Minister for approval.

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