Pigs drive macadamia farmer nuts

A “FRUSTRATED” macadamia farmer who rigged a loaded .303 rifle to fire automatically when set off by a trip wire, said a feral pig problem had left him with no other option but to lay the trap.

Lyndon Brian Hall, 63, was charged with firearm offences after a roaming dog was shot and injured on his Wilsons Pocket property in August. The court heard Hall had resorted to setting up the trap to protect his crop after many attempts at culling the pigs legally.

Defence solicitor Michael Connolly explained to the court that because macadamias were harvested from the ground, they were an ideal food source for pigs living in the national park that bordered his client's property. He said Hall had held a shooter's licence since the law required it and tendered a series of photographs of the “lay of the land” to help Magistrate Maxine Baldwin “get her head around the scene of the incident”.

“Feral pigs have been eating his profits,” Mr Connolly said and estimated the loss at about $25,000 per year.

“They are coming out of the national park where they (are breeding) in large numbers. My client has tried netting the property's boundary (and used) many types of traps but never had any success. He has only recently used this placement of the gun and has had success trapping pigs.”

The court heard Hall aimed the loaded rifle at the entry point where pigs had created a well-worn track — a spot surrounded by dense bush.

“It was unlikely any human would be in the line of fire... If anyone did come through they would take another route,” Mr Connolly said.

“My client's spent a lot of time and money trying to protect his property with little or no help from National Parks. He was frustrated and thought he had no other choice but to take drastic action.”

He said Hall had a great deal of remorse for causing injury to the dog.

Investigating police officers charged macadamia farmer Lyndon Hall for failing to store his weapon securely and for conducting his weapon in a way that was likely to cause harm.

Prosecutor Senior Constable Lisa Manns said Hall, a licensed gun user, broke the law by leaving a loaded gun unattended. She said a good behaviour bond was an appropriate penalty, “given his age and lack of criminal history”.

The court heard a National Parks representative told Hall, of Harris Road, to contact local piggers, which he did with no success. He also contacted a local trapper who told him how to set the trap.

“The older, smarter pigs would take the other pigs around the (legal) traps... Three (ringleader) pigs were shot before the dog which allowed my client to trap another 10 pigs.”

Magistrate Maxine Baldwin said the matter was “akin to fighting back against burglars” but added, “if a dog took off up there a child could too”.

Hall was placed on a bond to be of good behaviour for four months.

Gympie Times

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