Photos of feral pigs in the Northern Rivers.
Photos of feral pigs in the Northern Rivers. Office Of Environment Heritage NSW

Air bait drop to target pigs

THE NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service helicopter will fly from Sydney to the Northern Rivers at the end of the week for the biggest bait drop mission in the region for three years.

NPWS Pest management officer Lisa Wellman said boars weighing around 100kg had been seen in the reserve, which would be aggressive to humans and also present health risks to nearby communities.

"Controlling pigs in the Ballina Nature Reserve is a high priority," Ms Wellman said.

The reserve, a protected wetland with mangrove and paperbark forests, is home to many threatened species, including ospreys. "Pigs eat frogs, reptiles, birds, even small mammals and they spread weeds and disease,'' Ms Wellman said.

Damage by feral pigs is estimated to cost Australian agriculture more than $100 million a year, with sugar and grazing being the main agricultural activities affected in Ballina. Ground baiting began on November 19. Fixed cameras will be used to monitor the control program.

Ms Wellman said wet weather prevented baiting for the past two years.

She said the wild boars "were deliberately released in the area in the 60s or 70s for hunting or recreational purposes, according to landholders that have been in the area for a long time".

From 2010, almost 400 pigs have been trapped in the Newrybar Swamp area.

Dogs are not permitted in the Ballina Nature Reserve and reserve neighbours must ensure their pets do not roam as the pig baits are toxic to domestic animals.

The NPWS reminded the public that access to the reserve is not permitted.

The program is supported by the Newrybar Swamp Feral Pig Management Committee that includes Ballina Council, local neighbours, North Coast Livestock Health and Pest Authority and the RSPCA.

THE MISSION

  • Feral pig baits (1080 poison) will be dropped into the Ballina Nature Reserve.
  • The mission will be completed this Friday or Saturday of December, weather permitting.
  • The dropping of the aerial bait within the 665 hectares of the reserve will take around 45 minutes.
  • The helicopter has been given the required approvals for low flying below 500 metres to drop the baits.

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