Feral pigs can carry disease as well as destroy
native fauna and flora Photo: Jim Mitchell
Domestic pigs were introduced as a food source about the time of
European settlement. Throughout the 19th century, many were
transported to other settlements and it was not long before feral
populations of pigs became established.
Feral pigs have moved into Kakadu National Park and have also
reached the coast of Arnhem Land. They cause considerable
disturbance to the ground as they hunt for edible roots and
invertebrates in the soil. This destructive 'rooting' behaviour is
most intense when the ground is damp, and this is the time when
seeds are germinating. The new seedlings are destroyed and so there
is no regeneration of trees and shrubs to replace the old plants as
they die. This effect of pigs on regeneration has been observed
elsewhere in Australia, but has yet to be studied in detail in the
The effect on native vegetation is not the only problem with
pigs, for these animals can carry exotic livestock diseases such as
foot-and-mouth. If outbreaks occur, then pigs are likely to become
infected and act as a reservoir for the virus, re-infecting
Pigs need a good water supply, so they tend to follow creek
lines. During flooding they are able to get into new areas, and
then they survive dry times by clustering around bores. In this
way, they even make it into arid areas. For pastoralists, pigs are
a worry mainly because of their disease-carrying potential, but
also because they will sometimes prey on lambs and they can damage
fences and bore drains.
In tourist areas, large pigs are also of concern because they
can attack people and their digging has a noticeable visual
However, like other ferals, pigs can also be viewed as a
resource. In bad times landholders may even survive because of
sales of wild boar meat, much of which is exported.
To see a recent list of research findings on feral pigs
click here .
A Pastoral Survey - Feral pigs in Queensland in the early 1900's
Extract of information about wild pigs in Queensland, from an article written in 1948. [read more...
Pigs in the Savannas: Disease Threat
In the Wet Tropics feral pigs are a menace because of their impact on the rainforest But feral pig specialist Dr Jim Mitchell says their impact on the savannas could be profound because of a disease that would be catastrophic if it got… [read more...
Pill could put stop to rampaging pigs in outback
In Issue 8 of Savanna Links we profiled the enormous problems feral pigs posed to the northern savannas-as well as areas such as the north's tropical rainforests But in a few years a novel solution may be at hand: controlling the … [read more...
Biosecurity Queensland Pest Facts: Feral Pigs in Queensland
Describes the Feral Pig and its history of introduction and dispersal; biology; impacts; and methods of control (PDF file, 234 kB)
Biosecurity Queensland Pest Status Review: Feral Pigs in Queensland
McGaw, C.C. and Mitchell, J. (1998) Feral Pigs in Queensland. Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Water.
Describes the Feral Pig in Queensland; the history of its introduction and spread; its impacts on primary production and the environment; its biology; current control methods; animal welfare; legislative status; and control strategies (PDF file, 153 kB)
Commercial use of wild animals, (1998) Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra
Managing Vertebrate Pests: Feral Pigs
Choquenot, D., McIlroy, J. and Korn, T. (1996). Managing Vertebrate Pests: Feral Pigs
This report describes the introduction of the pig into Australia and its spread through the continent; its biology; impacts on the environment and agriculture; and community attitudes to feral pig management. Key strategies for successful feral pig control are recommended.
Can be ordered or dowloaded from the following Web Site as a PDF file (1287 kB) or as a Word document (1115 kB)).
Map of the distribution of Feral Pigs
Map of the distribution of Feral Pigs through the rangelands in 2000 on the Australian Natural Resources Audit Web Site