November 28, 2005

Wild pigs and dogs damage Australian farms-report

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia has more feral pigs than
people and exotic pests cost the economy more than A$700
million a year, damaging farms and the environment, a
government report says.

The 18-month inquiry found feral pigs, wild dogs, cats and
rabbits were the most destructive pests in Australia, causing
havoc for farmers, although feral deer, camels, foxes and
horses also posed significant problems.

"It is time to take control of this pressing problem facing
Australian farmers," inquiry chairman Alby Schultz told
Australia's parliament on Monday.

He said Australia had up to 23 million feral pigs, more
than 300,000 feral camels, with the population doubling every
eight years, and an estimated 300,000 feral horses.

There were 12 million feral cats, but the report gave no
estimate of the number of feral dogs.

Australia's human population is 20.4 million.

The report said feral pigs caused damage worth A$106.5
million a year compared to A$66 million a year for dogs. A
single wild dog could cause between A$50,000 and A$120,000
worth of damage to farm animals in a year, it said.

Schultz's report called for the national government and six
state governments to work together to stamp out feral pests,
and to allow aerial baits to be dropped for wild pigs and dogs
in the worst affected areas.

Inquiry member Dick Adams said more could be done to
commercially harvest feral pests for food and fur. The report
said wild pig meat exports already earned between A$3 million
and A$5 million a year, while wild possum meat is sent to

"I had the opportunity to try camel steak while in Western
Australia," Adams told parliament, saying there could be a
local market for camel meat if chefs could find a way of making
it tasty enough.