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Seeing is believing with feral pigs
Pork Industry Calendar of Events
JAN 11 – Banff Pork Seminar 2022 (Virtual) – Banff, Canada
FEB 23 – Queensland Pig Consultancy Group (QPCG) Industry Day ‘Building Resilience in a Changing World’ Toowoomba
APR 18-20 – United Pork America’s – Orlando, United States
APR 26-29 – Anuga FoodTec – Cologne, Germany
MAY 15-17 – Pork Production, Poultry Information Exchange and Australasian Milling Conference (PIX/AMC) – Gold Coast
AUG 19-21 – Kingaroy Baconfest 2022
NOV 13-16 – Australasian Pig Science Association (APSA) Conference
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THERE is much to be said for the adage ‘seeing is believing’.
This program ensures that public funds being invested in feral animal management are achieving meaningful and successful outcomes.
This is being done by the WDRC to encourage land managers to use the in- formation being collected to continuously improve their on-ground manage- ment practices.
It can be difficult for a land manager to accept that feral pigs are now in their local area – and are likely responsible for the extensive ‘earthworks’ re- cently observed in pad- docks, crop damage or reduced lambing percent- ages – without ever having seen any.
Chris Gaschk from the WDRC explained at the forum that following a pilot program, external funding was secured that enabled a 22km grid of 85 field cameras to be es- tablished across 3 million hectares to identify long- term activity indices.
The ability for this system to provide site-spe- cific information to land managers is vital – the cameras don’t lie.
by HEATHER CHANNON National Feral Pig Management Co-ordinator
This is a common situ- ation.
vious APN articles, are:
• Coordinated control over large areas by getting all land managers to work
the outcomes you want to achieve.
Having locally relevant real-time images from cameras showing that a mob of pigs is present on their land is extremely powerful in engaging and motivating action – sim- ilar to using GPS-collars.
It can also be exacer- bated by land managers not knowing what signs to look for when feral pigs have never been seen in the area before.
• Apply an integrated,
This will influence what methods are used and how the cameras will be set up in the landscape.
These field cameras are connected to the mobile network and many of these have been placed around watering points.
These notifications are resulting in increased en- gagement of land man- agers in community-led control programs.
A new fact sheet is now available on our website to assist with this – feralpigs.
best practice management approach – in areas that can be accessed by a ve- hicle, use low impact con- trol first such as baiting or trapping to minimise spreading of pigs across the area, move to other methods such as aerial shooting for less acces- sibleareastotrytoremove as many remaining pigs as possible
There are a lot of dif- ferent types of cameras available with different functionalities, so the choice of which ones to use must be driven by the purpose of the work and not the other way around.
An additional eight cameras are still to be deployed – an alterna- tive technical solution is needed for these cameras due to the selected sites being in cellular black spots.
Importantly, it is shifting decision making from a predominantly reactive approach to a proactive method.
Field cameras or camera traps are some of the tools used to provide much- needed information to as- sist land managers with the control of feral pig populations.
So, while field cameras are relatively easy to set up and use in the field, a good understanding of how they work and where to place them is needed to maximise their value as a survey tool.
It was recognised that manually going through the large volumes of im- ages captured would be a mammoth task.
Other benefits have flowed from the WDRC having this system in place.
Camera trapping is a widely used survey tool used around the world to monitor wildlife, in- cluding feral animals.
• Utilise seasonal con- ditions – when it is dry, apply a good plan and aim for 100 percent removal
This enables land man- agers to estimate a relative abundance index more ef- fectively, determine feral pig presence and absence in the landscape, and measure changes in popu- lation over time.
The WDRC is working with start-up company eVorta based in Mel- bourne and has adopted automated image analysis software to analyse all pictures captured.
It enables the council to more effectively report on the outcomes of state or Commonwealth funded projects and positions the council as a trusted or- ganisation for program delivery.
Remotely activated cam- eras take pictures when an object is in view and detected by either motion sensor, infrared sensor or light beam.
• Monitor before and after control efforts are undertaken, and act early.
The pictures are stored as digital images.
As we enter into the summer period, target your feral pig surveil- lance and control activities around water sources.
Too often in pest animal management, the measure of success of a manage- ment campaign is taken from the kill sheet, which can mislead the evaluation process.
The system provides real-time alerts via a mo- bile app to the land man- ager when a species of interest is captured on the camera located on their land.
In general, feral pig management programs are not guided or informed very well by data.
The key elements for successful feral pig con- trol, as discussed in pre-
Maximising value from field camera traps and using information col- lected to monitor and con- trol feral pig populations was the focus of our final virtual stakeholder forum for 2021.
Individual logins are also provided to group co- ordinators to enable them to better engage with all of the land managers in that region – noting that GPS coordinates are not shared with the coordinators for privacy reasons.
Yet, with the use of tech- nology such as cameras, a plethora of data can be collected.
Three informative pres- entations were made by Dr Andrew Bengsen from NSW Department of Pri- mary Industries, Chris Gaschk from Western Downs Regional Council and Dr Justin Perry from the North Australian In- digenous Land and Sea Management Alliance Ltd.
An important yardstick to remember is that to ef- fectively suppress growth and recovery of feral pigs, an annual reduction of at least 70 percent of the population is required.
Determining what useful data needs to be collected for monitoring purposes is key, so that more time can be spent on targeted management.
* continued P4
These are now available for viewing on our web- site.
Practicalities of camera trapping
While knowing numbers of pigs dispatched may be interesting, it doesn’t mean much if there is no estimate of the actual population present before the control efforts were undertaken.
Engaging land man- agers
era connected to the mobile network. Photos: Western Downs Regional Council
Dr Bengsen emphasised that when using cameras, it is important to first be clear on what you are wanting to find out or
In 2014, the Western Downs Regional Council in Queensland com- menced work to imple- ment its long-term re- gional pest management program.
field cam-
Feral pigs at a water point identified and counted using automated artificial intelligence.
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Page 2 – Australian Pork Newspaper, January 2022

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