Boar hunt comp grows
PROBABLY the only thing growing anywhere near as fast as Gympie region's feral pig problem is the enthusiasm of shooters aiming to stamp them out.
Gympie gun dealer and enthusiast Ron Owen is promoting the event, which will culminate in family entertainment on Saturday, July 11, with a weigh-in of shot pigs the next night.
And Mr Owen says the event is growing fast, with sponsorship (mostly in the form of prizes) up 50% in value from $20,000 last year to $30,000 this year.
"And we didn't have the free family entertainment last year, which is a big step forward for the event," he said.
The pigs are still winning though, on Mr Owen's figures, which he says are obtained from official government estimates.
Those estimates make it clear that pig numbers are out of control across Australia, with more pigs living here than people.
"In 2014, the government estimated Australia had 25 million pigs," he said.
And he said it seemed the pigs were able to reproduce so abundantly that they could, without hunters, double in population annually.
"Most Gympie region people have some connection with the land and understand what a problem this is," he said.
"And shooters are the best way to address that problem.
"There are real worries with 1080 baiting."
And all the time, he said, those pigs just keep breeding.
"Feral pigs have a reproductive rate closer to rabbits than other large herbivores.
"Females can breed from seven months old and have one or two litters a year of four to 10 piglets.
"The damage they cause to the Australian economy is huge and available statistics cannot really measure it.
"The way they breed, we can expect there are now 50 million feral pigs out there, damaging nut, grain and other crops," he said.
He says the boar hunt is a fun idea and a social event that combines helping farmers and the environment with raising money for ex-servicemen's families. Mr Owen says preparations are going well for this year's event.