Efforts to eradicate feral pigs on Kangaroo Island hitting their mark

More than 120 feral pigs have been culled on Kangaroo Island as part of a two-week trial using military-grade thermal imaging cameras and an aerial marksman.

Of the 126 pigs culled, around 95 per cent were detected with thermal camera technology, with only 5 per cent able to be seen with the naked eye.

It is estimated feral pigs cost primary producers on Kangaroo Island up to $1 million annually and cause significant damage to native vegetation and animals, many of which are threatened species such as the Kangaroo Island dunnart.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the Australian-first trial was a hugely successful step towards eradicating feral pigs from Kangaroo Island.

“This trial proved how effective the combination of an expert local aerial marksman on a helicopter equipped with military-grade thermal imaging cameras is to help eradicate feral pigs from the Island,” Minister Basham said.

“We estimate there are now fewer than 350 feral pigs remaining on the Island after this very successful trial culled more than 120 of these agricultural pests. The pigs targeted in this trial were across national parks and wilderness protection areas in western KI, in remote areas inaccessible to deploy trapping and baiting equipment.

“We know just how damaging feral pigs on Kangaroo Island are for our livestock and horticulture industries, as well as the environment, which is why we are doing everything we can eradicate this pest.

“We are going to turn the trial of this aerially-deployed technology into a strategic eradication method to complement the existing culling techniques in use, like baiting and trapping.”

A tender is now open for a $600,000 project to use military-grade technology to battle the scourge of feral pigs on Kangaroo Island.

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the Kangaroo Island community is supportive of this once-in-a-lifetime project to eradicate feral pigs.

“Feral pigs cost Kangaroo Island farmers around $1 million every year. Removing feral pigs will eliminate these costs and reduce impacts on the recovering biodiversity, including many endangered plants and animals,” Minister Speirs said.

“It’s heartening to see the great work of the team on the ground – and in the air – is paying off to drive down numbers of pigs. The pigs were humanely culled, and the carcasses left on the ground, to become part of the natural food chain.”

Following the devastating 2019/20 bushfires, which destroyed 211,000 hectares of land from the western border, a coordinated eradication response is taking advantage of this opportunity to remove pigs from the Island.

The three-year program is a partnership between the State Government, the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board and the Commonwealth Government.

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