USING dogs to hunt feral pigs is widespread in Queensland and so is the business of keeping track of them, but until recently, many people were doing so illegally.
According to the managing director of Dogmaster Trainers, Paul Asselman, pig hunters have for years had to parallel import dog tracking systems from the US, using frequencies that clashed with search and rescue radio frequencies and some television transmission signals.
“It wasn’t illegal to import them but it’s been illegal to use them,” he said, adding that he had been pleading with the company producing tracking collars to come up with a product that was suitable for use here, but at the time they were not able to keep up with the demand they were receiving.
A breakthrough in negotiations at the start of 2014 means Paul and many others are welcoming the release of a new Alpha 100 dog tracking system by Garmin Australasia, which works on a frequency that is legal in Australia.
With an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 old units present in Queensland it’s going to be a big job to replace them with the legal systems but Paul says he is lobbying government for legislation to ban non-compliant frequencies from entering Australia.
“Now that we have something for use legally here there’s no reason not to put a ban in place,” he said.
An embargo would also mean that old units couldn’t be sent back to the US for repair or replacement, which would see the attrition rate go up, bearing in mind the wear and tear the collars go through in the paddock.
Paul said the GPS tracking system was “big news” for the pig hunting community, with 70 per cent of Australia’s feral pigs said to be in Queensland.
“The Australian Pig Dog Hunting Association has told me one of their key messages to members is that this is a tracking system they are fully behind.
“If you go onto a property with five dogs, the grazier wants to be confident that you’ll leave with five dogs.”
Many hunters would prefer to have their sales, service and warranty located in Australia, including Blackall’s Tobin Aspinall.
He has sourced his products from Sydney because of the quicker turnaround time.
He finds they save a lot of time in the paddock because they help with direction and said the cost was worth it.
According to Paul, the price of legal units in Australia are on a par with the US product once GST and freight had been factored in.