Forget crocodiles and snakes, the real animal threat in Australia is wild pigs. At least if you’re camping.
Campers were told to lock up food and drink after feral pig goes on bender in Western Australia and ends up in altercation with cow.
At the popular campground in Western Australia, a feral pig guzzled down 18 beers that had been left out improperly secured. And just like anyone swigging 18 beers down at a pub, the pig got big-headed and decided to start a fight with a cow, resulting in the cow chasing the pig around a car.
“In the middle of the night these people camping opposite us heard a noise, so they got their torch out and shone it on the pig and there he was, scrunching away at their cans,” said a visitor.
"Then he went and raided all the rubbish bags. There were some other people camped right on the river and they saw him being chased around their vehicle by a cow."
The pig was later reported sleeping his hangover off under a tree. Or maybe he was just feeling ashamed of trying to take down a cow?
While feral pigs are considered an invasive pest in many parts of the country, it’s also a reminder to keep food and drink secured when camping. Just imagine if it had been a drunk kangaroo.
On a more serious note...
Russell Wild, Cairns Regional Council co-ordinator for natural areas management, says wild pig attacks are rare but can result in serious injuries.
“The pig for whatever reason has had a go at the boy,” he said.
“This is absolutely out of the ordinary.”
Pigs generally only attack when provoked or surprised, he says.
Another instance of feral pig attack occurred in June 2015 when a 22 year old woman was attacked in a National Park while trying to protect her family wolfhound from an altercation with a pig. The attack occurred in Mount Jerrabomberra in southeast New South Wales, near Queanbeyan and was reported on the ABC website on the 17th July.
Feral pig hunters to the rescue
A whopping-big feral pig has been nabbed not far from a homestead in far west New South Wales.
The enormous boar was found foraging in thick bushland, on a large outback property, 175 kilometres north of Broken Hill.
Grazier Paul Mannion from Nundora Station says he is glad he did not come across it alone.
"I'm no hero when it comes to them," he said.
"It would raise a sweat to my face if I found myself eyeballing it."
But thanks to some hunting help, the giant pest was soon tracked down.
"We had pig hunters come up from Melbourne and they came across him in very thick scrub, seven kilometres from the family home," Mr Mannion said.
"This pig's probably about 120 to 130 kilograms and maybe seven or eight years old.
"Usually they lose their tusks by the time they get that big."
Mr Mannion says it is not the first time he has seen wild boars snouting about on his property.
"We get hunters up about once a month as feral pigs are a big problem," he said.
"These blokes play a big part in keeping numbers down.
"They [feral pigs] have a big impact on lambing in particular, because they just take the little lambs.
"When it's really dry, they'll kill full-grown sheep."
Mr Mannion says he would not be surprised if there is a bigger pest lurking somewhere at the station.
"It's surprising how the pigs are getting bigger and bigger," he said.
"They get shot, but they keep coming, they must be coming from somewhere."
Feral Pigs and people just don't mix
Feral pigs are increasingly seen in the peri urban fringe. One pig was reaching the Brisbane River in Indooroopilly by traversing a creek bed through this prime Brisbane suburb. Pigs are present in several national Parks. While direct conflict with humans is not yet commonplace we do not wish to sensationalise the risk, it is likely that risks to humans will increase as both human and pig territories merge through population expansion.
Feral pigs can reach over 100 kg (220 lbs) liveweight but are generally in the 20 to 50 kg (44 to 110 lbs)range as adults. They can breed rapidly commencing within a year of birth in favourable conditions with a litter size of around six piglets, up to twice per year. Natural death rates are also high, so pig populations fluctuate widely between seasons. Some estimates in favourable seasons have more feral pigs than farmed cattle in Australia! In areas of high infestation, densities can reach 40 feral pigs per 1 square kilometer (.4 square miles)
Feral pigs have no natural predators and they can destroy native environments, cause crop damage and contaminate water sources by rooting and defecation. They prey on small native animals and young livestock. Pig related lamb losses of up to 40% have driven some former sheep grazing lands into other use over recent decades. Pig damage to crops is estimated to be around around AUD $100m annually.
Feral pigs are found in all states, but are most abundant in New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory. About 40% of the Australian mainland possesses feral pig populations and the range is expanding.
Feral pig facts
- The feral pig has coarse hair and a solid build.
- A male pig can weigh up to 175 kg (386 lbs), a female 110 kg (243 lbs).
- If the pig is a colour apart from black, it is most likely a cross-breed with domestic stock.
- The feral pig has smaller and narrower hindquarters than domestic breeds.
- Feral pigs are known to eat young lambs, removing up to 40% of livestock in some areas. This costs the sheep industry millions of dollars a year.
- Feral pigs breed throughout the year in favourable conditions, peaking between May and October.
- European settlers introduced pigs.
- To this day, some pigs are deliberately released by recreational hunters.
- Annual impact on agriculture is estimated at $100 million annually
- Pigs destroy waterways and eat anything – mammals, reptiles, amphibians and crustaceans.
- Their impact on turtle nests has raised fears the amphibians will become regionally extinct.
- If diseases like foot and mouth should enter Australia, feral pigs are expected to spread it widely.
Steve Lapidge is a former Program Leader with the Invasive Animals CRC. In this video, Steve gives an introduction to feral pigs in Australia - how they got here, how they differ from domestic pigs, and their biology and ecology. Impacts of feral pigs on the environment and agriculture are also discussed.