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SIGHTS SET ON CONTROLLING FERAL PIGS IN THE OTWAY REGION

February 2, 2022

Agencies are working together to deliver innovative control methods to combat feral pigs and protect threatened species, including Southern Brown Bandicoot, Long-nosed Potoroo and Mainland Swamp Antechinus and their supporting habitat in the Otways.

Feral pigs are one of Australia’s worst pest animal species. They cause extensive damage to agriculture and the environment and can spread diseases that threaten human, wildlife and livestock health (resource Agriculture Victoria). Feral Pig damage, particularly through winter, has resulted in the loss of large areas of productive land and costs associated with remediation of renovated pasture.

The Australian Government’s Wild Otways Initiative commenced in 2020 as a three-year $6M commitment to achieving on ground outcomes that improve the protection and management of threatened species in  the Otways.

As part of this Initiative, a Feral Pig and Deer Eradication Project is being delivered to mitigate the impacts of these key threats. Led by Conservation Ecology Centre (CEC), this project is critically assessing populations of pigs and deer across the Otways and identifying regions where management is necessary to preserve EPBC-listed threatened species and protect vital assets such as water catchments and cultural heritage.

To deliver this work, CEC is working in partnership with the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Parks Victoria, Central Otways Landcare Network, Upper Barwon Landcare Network, Southern Otways Landcare Network and Barwon Water. They’re also consulting with Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation about sites of concern that would warrant priority action.

From left; Dr Jack Pascoe (Conservation Ecology Centre - CEC), Ben Firman (CEC), Margie Drake (landholder), Dr Heather Channon (National Feral Pig Action Plan Coordinator), Peter Ashton (DELWP Forest Fire Management Victoria), Katrina Lovett (Parks Victoria) and Tim Wilson (Project Manager – CEC).

GPS collars and motion detection camera traps are being deployed to help understand pig movements and more accurately track of feral pigs, enabling more effective and targeted control. This has enabled the successful removal of feral pigs on private and public land in key locations across the landscape.

The Conservation Ecology Centre (CEC) is actively working with private landholders and public land managers to conduct control works and provide guidance on best practice management of feral pigs in the Otways. Training is also being provided to private landowners in the use of Feral Scan to report sightings of feral species in the Otways, in partnership with local Landcare Networks.

Feral Pig with a GPS collar in the Otway Region

“It’s exciting to see how this information is already improving management techniques and taking effect on the ground,” said CEC Project Coordinator Tim Wilson. “Receiving notifications about pig activity from community and other stakeholders via Feral Scan, paired with the detailed insights we are collecting from the cameras and collars puts us in a much better position to successfully manage these pests.”

Corangamite CMA Senior Project Officer Anthony Byrne said, “We were pleased to host the National Feral Pig Action Coordinator, Dr Heather Channon, recently to share knowledge and demonstrate the scope and innovation of the Pig and Deer control project in working with multiple agencies and private landowners and using latest technologies to reduce the threat of feral pigs across the Otways landscape”.

The Pig and Deer control project contributes to efforts being made nationwide to combat feral pigs. The ‘National Feral Pig Action Plan’ has been developed to help reduce the impacts caused by feral pigs to Australia’s environmental, agricultural, cultural and social assets through sustained, coordinated and collaborative actions by land managers. It seeks to connect researchers, industry and community partners in the management of feral pigs across Australia and promote best-practice management.

This project is supported by the Corangamite CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s Environment Restoration Fund. This project will run until 2023.

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