A national feral pig co-ordinator will be appointed to tackle Australia’s feral pig population, as concerns about African swine fever rise in Australia.
“Feral pigs cost the national agricultural sector about $14.5 million a year through production losses and that cost would balloon exponentially if African swine fever reached Australia,” Federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said.
Feral pigs are a widespread agricultural pest that prey on other animals and spread diseases.
They have evolved from domestic pigs and are believed to cover 45 per cent of Australia.
“There would be widespread ramifications for Australian agriculture if our hard-earned international reputation for producing safe, clean and green food and fibre was damaged by a disease outbreak,” Senator McKenzie said.
National Farmers Federation chief executive officer Tony Mahar said controlling feral pigs on a national level was critical.
“Feral pigs inhabit nearly half of the Australian land mass, and like other pest animals they don't respect jurisdictional borders or property boundaries,” Mr Mahar said.
Control methods used against feral pigs include poison baiting, trapping, hunting and exclusion fencing.
Feral pigs are also known to create significant damage to the environment when excavating for food.
Australian Pork Ltd chief executive officer Margo Andrae said the co-ordinator would be based with the producer-owned pig industry body.
“This is a crucial opportunity to get on the front foot nationally to better manage feral pig populations, both in the immediate context of protecting our industry from African swine fever and to reduce the agricultural and environmental damage feral pigs inflict across so much of the continent,” Ms Andrae said.
“We estimate an incursion of African swine fever would cost Australia more than $2 billion.”