FERAL BOOM: 14 pigs in 14 days as farmer fights animals
WEATHER and the economy might be their big concerns, but Gympie's farmers are also fighting against an infestation which threatens half their crops - feral pigs.
Dagun farmer Wolfgang Lanz said that in the past fortnight he had trapped 14 of the animals, which were attracted by fallen macadamia nuts and capable of eating 7-10kg every day.
"What's on the ground pigs are taking,” he said.
"We didn't have this problem 20 years ago when the state forest put bait out.”
It was not a problem isolated to his property either, Mr Lanz said.
His neighbours had caught about 70 in the past three years, and in the past 15 Mr Lanz had disposed of more than 150.
"They have no (natural) enemies,” he said.
"The only enemies they have is us.”
Mr Lanz said the animals posed more than a financial problem.
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Brucellosis - a disease which causes flu-like symptoms and can lead to long-term health problems or even death - is commonly caught from them.
"If you handle wild pigs you could get infected by it,” Mr Lanz said.
Market gardener Stephen Burgess said the size of the problem had been "underestimated”.
While efforts to bring feral pig numbers down over the years had proven effective, Mr Burgess said they had popped back up on his radar recently.
"In the past month or so I've been seeing them,” he said.
"It's nothing like it was a few years ago, though.
"I don't think we're ever going to be rid of them completely.”
The problem is not confined to the Mary Valley, either.
Mothar Mountain farmer Mathew Fea said his own property had been a popular haunt for feral pigs two years ago.
"I saw 40 pigs in trail cameras in one night,” Mr Fea said.
"Last year they were eating half my crop.”
He said efforts to control the numbers had worked well but it would be a mistake to think the issue was solved.
Part of that was being aware of the problem in the first place.
"There's probably pigs on people's property and they don't even know they're there.”
A Gympie Regional Council spokeswoman said they did not know exactly how many feral pigs are in the region but "although the populations of feral pigs... can fluctuate, overall numbers remain similar to previous years”.
"Feral pigs look for high protein foods sources such as nuts and meat, due to this they target farms such as macadamia nut farms, however, they can also be found in natural areas looking for a wide variety of food.”
She said all landholders had a biosecurity obligation which the council helped them meet.
"Feral pigs... are 'restricted' animals under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
"They are also listed as priority pest animal species for control regionally, as their impacts to agribusinesses and the environmental values are well known.”
There are a number of options available to help property owners manage feral pig problems.
These include 1080 baiting for eligible landholders; loans of pig traps and pig mesh; motion-activated back-flash cameras to monitor areas; and council-run trapping programs.