A two-week trial of military-grade thermal imaging cameras to locate and cull feral pigs on Kangaroo Island is underway, in the latest move to eradicate this pest from the Island.
It is estimated feral pigs cost primary producers on Kangaroo Island up to $1 million annually and cause significant damage to native vegetation and animals, many of which are threatened species such as the Kangaroo Island dunnart.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said dramatic footage obtained during a test flight showed how many feral pigs remain in inaccessible terrain on the Island.
“We know just how damaging feral pigs on Kangaroo Island can be for the environment as well as to our livestock and horticulture industries,” Minister Basham said.
“While much of Kangaroo Island was devastated by last summer’s devastating bushfires, one of the silver linings was a significant reduction in the number of feral pigs on the Island down from an estimated 5,000 before the fires to now be fewer than 450.
“In an Australian first, the Marshall Liberal Government is trialling the use of thermal imaging technology to help locate and cull the remaining feral pigs potentially getting rid of this pest from Kangaroo Island once and for all.
“During an initial 90-minute reconnaissance helicopter flight on Kangaroo Island, thermal imaging cameras spotted 42 feral pigs, all virtually invisible to see with the naked eye and in areas inaccessible for land-based baiting and trapping.
“Our trial program will use expert aerial marksmen, so once the pigs are located hidden in thick vegetation, they’re culled in a swift, humane way.”
Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the trial would have minimal impact on the public’s access to national parks on Kangaroo Island.
“Feral pigs on Kangaroo Island are a serious pest, causing damage to native vegetation and animals, many of which are threatened with extinction,” Minister Speirs said.
“Animals at risk include the endangered southern brown bandicoot, the endangered Kangaroo Island dunnart and the endangered Kangaroo Island echidna.
“This will be a controlled, safe trial where a helicopter will fly along almost 400km of creek and river banks, where pigs congregate during summer and autumn.
“If the trial is successful, this technique will be used throughout the remaining pig infested areas of western Kangaroo Island.”
Liberal candidate for Mawson, Amy Williams said feral pigs have been a long-standing issue on Kangaroo Island.
“Feral pigs have been impacting farmers and the environment on Kangaroo Island for years, not only causing ongoing damage to pastures, grain and potato crops, fence lines and dams but impacting on threatened native species and vegetation,” Ms Williams said.
“The local community are very supportive of the Kangaroo Island Feral Pig Eradication Program and this latest trial using leading edge technology to locate and cull feral pigs is a really positive step towards eradicating this pest.”
The $100,000 trial is part of a $2.67 million Kangaroo Island Feral Pig Eradication Program, which is funded by State and Commonwealth Government Disaster Recovery Arrangements. The three-year program is a partnership between the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board and National Parks and Wildlife Service, in an effort to eradicate feral pigs from the Island by 2023.