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Feral pigs

Feral pigs can cause extensive environmental, social, cultural, and economic damage. Estimates of agricultural damage (and thus, impacts to economic values), from feral pigs can be hundreds of millions of dollars per year[2]. They predate on native wildlife, destroy habitats, compete for resources with native wildlife, introduce invasive weeds, and disrupt the ecosystem services provided by wetlands. Feral pigs are a perennial management issue with strong seasonality in their impacts. Therefore, managing the impacts from feral pigs on the natural environment, and the ecosystems providing valuable ecosystem services, such as wetlands, requires a whole-of-system, values-based approach.

Juvenile feral pig. Photo by Department of Environment and Resource Management - Queensland Government

Quick facts

Feral pigs
in Northern Australia and in the Wet Tropics may compete with native bird species, such as brolgas or cassowaries, for tubers and fruits[1]. Find out more about the ecology of feral pigs.

Feral pig traveling through a waterbody. Photo by Department of Environment and Resource Management - Queensland Government

A small group or even single feral pig can cause significant damage to wetland margins in a very short space of time. Because vegetation plays a critical role in stabilising the land, vegetation destruction by feral pigs can lead to higher rates of erosion and nutrient and sediment resuspension into the water column[4].

Impacts from feral pigs to wetlands can include:

  • habitat alteration and degradation from feeding, trampling, pugging, and wallowing activities[3]
  • decreased water quality, including decreased water clarity (e.g., increased turbidity), reduced dissolved oxygen levels, and increased nutrient concentrations (e.g., increased ammonium levels)[4]
  • decreased aquatic flora cover[1]
  • altered structure of plant communities[1][3]
  • spread of introduced weeds and pathogens, leading to the loss of sensitive species[1]
  • predation on and competition with native wetland animals (e.g., lizards, amphibians, birds, turtles)[1].

National Feral Pig Information Hub: Queensland Portal

Additional information


References

  1. ^ a b c d e Australian Government (2017), Threat abatement plan for predation, habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission by feral pigs (Sus scrofa). [online], Commonwealth of Australia. Available at: https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/b022ba00-ceb9-4d0b-9b9a-54f9700e7ec9/files/tap-feral-pigs-2017-background-document.pdf.
  2. ^ Australian Pork Limited (2020), Australian Feral Pig Report - July 2020. [online], National Feral Pig Action Plan. Available at: https://feralpigs.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/National-Feral-Pig-Management-APL-Report-July-2020.pdf.
  3. ^ a b State of Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning (2017), Impacts of pigs in wetlands. [online], Arthur Rylah Institute. Available at: https://www.ari.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0036/66897/Impact-of-Pigs-on-Wetlands-Fact-Sheet-3.pdf.
  4. ^ a b Waltham, N & Schaffer, J (2017), Continuing aquatic assessment of wetlands with and without feral pig and cattle fence exclusion, Archer River catchment. [online], vol. 17/04, Centre for Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), James Cook University, Townsville, Australia. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320079038_Continuing_aquatic_assessment_of_wetlands_with_and_without_feral_pig_and_cattle_fence_exclusion_Archer_River_catchment/link/59d4c052a6fdcc181adc559f/download.

Last updated: 10 May 2021

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2021) Feral pigs, WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 May 2021. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/management/pressures/feral-pigs/

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science