Feral Pigs (Sus scrofa)

Not Wanted!Status: Feral pigs are only found only on Flinders Island in Tasmania and are managed in accordance with the Feral Pig Management Plan Flinders Island (2002). On mainland Tasmania, any pigs at large are considered to be domestic stock.

Risk Assessment: Threat Abatement Plan: Feral Pigs



Colour photo of Pig (Photo Vanessa Macdonald - Courtesy of Invasive Animals CRC)

Feral pig
Image: Vanessa Macdonald, Courtesy of  IA CRC

Identifying features

Feral pigs are typically smaller, leaner and more muscular than domestic pigs. Juveniles may be striped, while old boars (razorbacks) have large heads and shoulders, and a raised, prominent backbone.

Feral pig body are covered in sparse, coarse (mostly black) hair.


History

Feral pigs are the descendants of domestic pigs, which were first brought into Australia by early European colonists. These domestic pigs were often allowed to range freely to forage for food in the bush, and inevitably some became feral, living and breeding in the wild.

There have only been occasional, localised and temporary populations of Feral pigs on the mainland of Tasmania, due to accidental release. However, pigs became feral on Flinders Island in the 1800s after being released by sealers and following a shipwreck in 1877. Feral pig numbers were supplemented by pigs that were accidentally or intentionally released in the 1970s.


Distribution

On Flinders Island feral pigs are found in the Strzelecki National Park area located in the southwest corner of the island, and through the wetlands along the east coast. During very wet seasons, feral pigs have been sighted throughout the island.

On the east coast, feral pigs are found in two wetlands that are listed on the Register of the National Estate and as international Ramsar sites.

View recorded distribution information in Natural Values Atlas
View recorded distribution information in PestSmart


Environmental Impacts

Feral pigs are environmental and agricultural pests on Flinders Island and threaten at least 30 native plant and animal species. They cause damage to the environment through wallowing, rooting for food and selective feeding. They compete with native animals for food, destroy habitat for native plants and animals and can spread environmental weeds. Many native plants and several native animals threatened by feral pigs are listed under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992 (EPBC Act).

Feral pigs are a major agricultural pest. They compete with livestock, destroy crops and fencing, foul water sources and transmit disease.


Reproduction

Breeding is heavily influenced by the availability and quality of food. Favourable conditions allow feral pigs to reproduce all year round and at a rapid rate, akin to rabbits. Sows (female pigs) can breed once they reach about 25 kg or six months of age and can potentially produce two litters of 4-10 piglets a year.


Control measures

In Australia, a range of feral pig control techniques are available, including trapping, poisoning, shooting (including use of Judas pigs) and fencing. Generally, no single technique will completely remove feral pigs from a given area, so a combination of techniques is usually needed. For more information see the PestSmart Toolkit.

Please report feral pig sightings on Flinders Island to the Invasive Species Branch on 1300 369 688 or by email to invasivespecies@dpipwe.tas.gov.au


Did you know?

Captain Cook's diaries make mention of the release of a boar and a sow on Bruny Island, Tasmania in 1777. Cook expected the pigs to be killed by the Aboriginal population and no signs of pigs were seen by the Baudin expedition in 1802.


Further information

For advice on feral pig management in Tasmania, contact the Invasive Species Branch on 03 6777 2200.

The PestSmart Toolkit provides information and guidance on best-practice invasive animal management on several key vertebrate pest species including rabbits, foxes, feral pigs and feral cats.


See other invasive mammals:

Foxes | European rabbits | Feral goats | Feral cats | Ferrets | Wild dogs

See other invasive species:

Birds |Freshwater species | Other species

Contact

Invasive Species Enquiries
Invasive Species Branch
165 Westbury Road
PROSPECT TAS 7250
Phone: 03 6777 2200
Fax: 03 6336 5453
Email: invasivespecies@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

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