Input sought on feral pests

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Adam PoulsenMidwest Times
West Binnu grain and sheep farmer Terry Carson.
Camera IconWest Binnu grain and sheep farmer Terry Carson. Credit: Supplied

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development wants input from landholders struggling with wild rabbits and feral pigs so the destructive pests can be better managed.

Landholders have been invited to complete an online survey to gather information on the impact the animals have on farms, the difficulties of trying to control them, and the areas where help is most needed.

Feedback will then be used to help recognised biosecurity groups devise co-ordinated control programs.

West Binnu grain and sheep farmer Terry Carson said wild pigs could be “devastating”.

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“They uproot vegetation and they soil the sheep watering points — that’s probably the main problem they cause for us,” Mr Carson said.

“Normally sheep can go two to three days without needing their troughs cleaned out but if there’s wild pigs coming in, they wash their snouts and that can foul a water trough up in one night, so it becomes a management issue.

“They also love rubbing on pipes, which they tend to buff.

“They’re a destructive animal.”

Mr Carson, a Shire of Northampton councillor, said while the wild pig population was a concern in West Binnu, it was not out of control.

But he said the animals were a major issue facing farmers in Northampton, where poisoning was considered the most effective control method.

“We’ve got two lots of doggers (pig hunters) that come through on about a 10-day basis, and they keep the numbers down,” Mr Carson said.

“But people in Northampton prefer poisoning them, because they get the whole mob by doing it that way.”

Mr Carson said biological control methods had kept rabbit numbers under control at his farm.

But Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development development officer James Dee said there was no biological control agent that could be used against feral pigs, which were being found in new areas around WA.

“The release of the RHDV1-K5 virus last year has been effective in reducing wild rabbit numbers,” he said.

“It’s estimated that the virus has reduced the wild rabbit population by 42 per cent but for effective control we need to get that down significantly further.

“To successfully manage wild rabbits and feral pigs, which are both prolific breeders and can have such a significant impact on agriculture, co-ordinated control programs are essential.”

The survey is open until Saturday, May 5 and can be accessed at surveymonkey.com/r/BRMPRV3.

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