Life on the land in Australia

Australia’s GPS tracking of feral pigs in the bush outback

ferral black pigs image www.ozrural.com.au

A group of feral pigs will be monitored to assess the environmental impact they have in WA Photo: Cliff Grassmick

The every move of a number of feral pigs will be tracked as part of a research program investigating the life of swine.

Satellite technology, infrared cameras and thermal imagery are being used over an area extending from Manjimup to Walpole for the first time to determine the range, population and distribution of feral pigs in the South West.

As part of the trial, up to six feral pigs will be fitted with satellite collars by the end of the year, with more to be tracked into the New Year.

The collars emit a signal which enables researchers to monitor the pig’s movements.


Thermal imagery and infrared cameras will also be used to detect them during fly-overs of the region.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the trial would help to quantify the extent of damage that feral pigs were capable of causing to the environment, native animals and to agriculture.

“The population of feral pigs in the South West remains unknown because it is difficult to estimate the number of feral pigs across such a heavily forested area. There is also no proven method to determine their numbers,” Mr Jacob said.

“However, it is hoped that by the end of the trial, researchers and departmental staff will have developed a technique to provide an approximation.

“To date, two collars have been successfully fitted to feral pigs. It is anticipated a further four collars will be deployed this month and an additional 14 collars before May 2015.

“The threat of feral pigs cannot be underestimated. They compete with native animals for food and damage vegetation by trampling, wallowing and digging around the edges of watercourses, causing erosion. They also spread environmental weeds and diseases.”

Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston said feral pigs were a risk to the state’s agricultural industry.

“They damage cereal and vegetable crops, wreck water points normally accessed by stock and they can potentially spread diseases to livestock,” Mr Baston said.

“Knowing the locations of feral pigs through tracking can also give an advantage to state agencies in combating illegal hunting activities.”

The trial is a joint initiative of the departments of Parks and Wildlife and Agriculture and Food, South West Catchments Council, Murdoch University and community pest control groups.


Henry Sapiecha

December 15th, 2014

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