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Feral Pig Management in Australia: Current Trends and Future Directions

  • Author(s): Bengsen, Andrew J.
  • Gentle, Matthew N.
  • Mitchell, James L.
  • Pearson, Hayley E.
  • Saunders, Glen R.
  • et al.
Abstract

Feral or free-ranging pigs have been a problem in Australia since the first years of European settlement, and they now occur in a wide range of habitat types throughout much of the continent. Feral pigs impact environmental, agricultural, and cultural resources, but they can also have commercial value from harvesting and recreational or subsistence hunting. It has been difficult to quantify many of the adverse impacts of feral pigs. Consequently, most management programs aim to mitigate actual, potential, or perceived impacts that have been inferred from observational studies and anecdotes, untested retroductive hypotheses, or observations generated from outside of Australia. Lethal control to reduce population density is the most common form of management, and it is often applied as a form of insurance, rather than to mitigate specific, measurable impacts. We suggest that future management programs should aim to quantify the effects of management actions on pig populations and the vulnerable resources that are the basis of real management objectives. There are important ethical and practical reasons for this approach, which should in turn enhance the efficiency and efficacy of management programs and help to ensure continued public and government support for ongoing mitigation of the feral pig problem.

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