A NEW report says the $100 million damage directly attributed to feral pigs is only the tip of the iceberg.
The report, published this week by Australian Pork Limited, is part of the development of the National Feral Pig Action Plan, a $1.4m Federal Government response to the direct threat feral pigs pose to Australia's commercial pork industry as potential carriers of African Swine Fever.
"Feral pigs are one of the most destructive invasive species in Australia, with an estimated national population of up to 24m, spread across 45 per cent of the country or some 3.43m square kilometres," National Feral Pig Management coordinator Dr Heather Channon said.
"This report confirms that even conservative modelling indicates that feral pigs cause more than $100m in direct economic costs to the agricultural sector each year.
"They cause losses in productivity through livestock predation, competing for feed, fouling water sources, damaging farm infrastructure, reducing crop yields, spreading invasive weeds and acting as a vector for disease.
"The potential cost posed by feral pigs' ability to act as carriers of endemic and exotic diseases is substantial. The annual estimated damage bill of $100m seems to be just the tip of the iceberg."
Dr Channon said that while feral pigs populations could increase by more than 85 per cent a year.
"Typically, 55-70pc of feral pigs need to be culled annually to keep the population size from expanding," she said.
"We're dealing with highly fertile, intelligent animals with a wide-ranging omnivorous diet, which is why feral pig management is such a complex issue for industry and all tiers of government."
The National Feral Pig Action Plan aims to develop a coordinated, best-practice approach to feral pig management, similar to what the National Wild Dog Action Plan is delivering.
The release of the APL report coincides with the first meeting of the National Feral Pig Action Plan steering group, held on July 15, and chaired by experienced agribusiness leader John Maher.
The 14 person steering group represents a wide range of stakeholders groups and is guiding the development of a preliminary Action Plan to be delivered to the Federal Department of Agriculture by January.
Queensland is represented on the National Feral Pig Action Plan steering group by AgForce's Zena Ronnfeldt.
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