ON THE JOB: Mel and Tim Colgate from Direct Shot – Varmint Shooters.
ON THE JOB: Mel and Tim Colgate from Direct Shot – Varmint Shooters.

Councillor calls for region to set sights on pest populations

FERAL pigs are a persistent problem in the Somerset Region, and now one councillor is pushing for new measures to thin out of the population of pests.

“I’d like to see a bounty put on wild pigs,” Councillor Dan Hall said.

“It might help reduce the bloody things.”

According to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, feral pigs can cost the industry more than $50 million per year through predation, competition and the destruction of crops and pastures, just in Queensland alone.

The Somerset Regional Council already has a bounty program to support landowners in dealing with dingoes and wild dogs, and a bounty for wild pigs, if approved, would likely follow a similar process.

“They’re easier to find now, in the drought,” Cr Hall said.

The ongoing drought and recent fire conditions have decreased the amount of food and shelter available to the pigs, forcing them closer to people’s properties in some areas.

Somerset Council’s pest management officers distribute 1080 baits on a regular basis, and have been hard at work in recent months targeting feral pig hotspots.

In September, 114 meat baits were deployed in Eskdale, and more than 45kg of bait grain has been distributed in the Buaraba area since August.

A trap placed on a property at Kingaham in July and August succeeded in trapping 30 pigs while another trap used at Cooeeimbardi in April also trapped 30 pigs, 10 of which were pregnant.

Councillor Hall’s comments were taken into consideration, and it was agreed to discuss the issue more in-depth in a future council meeting.

One Somerset councillor has suggested instituting a bounty on wild pigs.
One Somerset councillor has suggested instituting a bounty on wild pigs.

In the neighbouring Lockyer Valley, pigs present less of a problem.

“We don’t have too much in the way of pigs out here,” Timothy Colgate from Direct Shot Varmint Control said.

“They’re more of an issue out Esk way, especially for farms that have crops.”

Tim and his wife Mel operate as shooters and trappers, and are based out of Regency Downs, though they cover areas as far away as Ipswich, Toowoomba, and Esk.

In his work, Tim has seen how drought conditions and recent highway upgrades have caused other pest animals such as foxes and dogs to encroach further onto people’s properties.

“I work for a lady who lost a horse to dogs. They’re pretty bad at the moment, especially with families or farmers who have sheep,” Mr Colgate said.

“The numbers have gone up quite a bit, because they’ve had pups, and now all the pups are out with the parents, they’re getting old enough now to look after themselves.”

Wild dogs (a blanket term which includes dingoes, escaped domestic dogs, and the hybrid offspring of the two) pose an even greater problem nation-wide than wild pigs.

Dogs opportunistically prey on sheep, cattle and other animals, leading to massive losses in the livestock industry totally in the hundreds of millions nationwide.

Both Somerset and Lockyer Valley councils use 1080 baits to combat pest animals, and also offer bounties of $25 a scalp for wild dogs.

Mr Colgate advised property owners to consider trapping and shooting rather than baiting.

“If you’re having any issues, find your local shoot or trapper, even speak with councils, because they can help with traps,” he said.

“Do your research on who you want out there, there’s always someone willing to shoot.”


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