Feral pigs (Sus scrofa) cause a range of impacts to the Wide Bay Burnett’s economic, environmental and social values. They are currently found in most areas of the Wide Bay Burnett, and have the ability to double in population every 12 months in good conditions. Impacts attributed to feral pigs include:
- The spread of weed seeds through their movements,
- Degradation of soil and water quality through foraging and behavioural characteristics;
- Predation on native species;
- Damage to crops; and
- Acting as a vector for the transition of a number of diseases, including foot and mouth disease and African swine fever.
In 2019 and in response to increasing feral pig damage to regional cropping areas, MSF Sugar and the WBBROC Invasive Species Advisory Committee partnered together to develop a regional feral pig working group. The aim of the working group was to improve the coordination of on-ground feral pig management activities within the Maryborough region and to reduce their impacts to the region’s economic, social and environmental values.
The development of the Maryborough feral pig working group involved:
- An initial meeting, where a broad section of affected and interested stakeholders were invited to discuss their experiences with feral pigs, and their desire to develop a regional approach to the management of feral pigs;
- Two follow up working group meetings, which invited interested stakeholders to develop a regional strategy; and
- Quarterly follow up meetings to progress the strategy and monitor its achievements.
Since its development, the Maryborough Feral Pig Working Group now has participation from over 10 regional and local stakeholders and are working towards delivering:
- A Regional Feral Pig Action Plan;
- A feral pig trapping school;
- Coordinated feral pig trapping programs; and
- Coordinated feral pig baiting programs.
Alike many reginal working groups, the development of the Maryborough Feral Pig Working Group did have a number of challenges that needed to be overcome, including:
- Stakeholder time constraints
To manage stakeholder time constraints, the Maryborough feral pig working group shared roles and responsibilities across all stakeholder groups. By doing so, the load was shared and all stakeholders could contribute towards the Action Plan’s outcomes.
- Balancing individual stakeholder desires
To manage individual preferences on management activities amongst stakeholders, the Maryborough feral pig working group aimed to understand different positions held by stakeholders and tried to work out how they could still be involved in the delivery of the Action Plan. For example, for those stakeholders that don’t participate in coordinated baiting programs due to concerns of working dog poisoning, see if they want to undertake a trapping program.
Tips on developing a working group
- Try and engage as many people as possible. Even when you think you have enough people, always think about who else should be involved!
- Make sure you walk away with documented actions, and a commitment from all stakeholders after each working group meeting. This helps in progressing towards working group goals, and reduces the likelihood of stakeholders forgetting to undertake actions.
- Always look at the bigger picture. Whilst feral pigs can cause significant on-farm losses, it is important to take a regional perspective on the impacts that feral pigs cause to regional economic, social and environmental outcomes. By doing so, you will be helping not only your neighbours, but the region’s economy, environmental and social values.
- Organise meetings in a central location to all stakeholders, and depending upon the type of landholders invited (i.e. government), make sure meeting times fit in with working hours.
If you would like to be involved in a feral pig working group in your local government area, contact your local government’s biosecurity team for more information.
This website has been developed through funding by the Queensland Government as part of the Better Partnership Project.