Feral animal control in SA's Channel Country

An aerial operation to control feral pigs and large feral herbivores in the Channel Country of the State’s Far North East has removed almost 1000 feral animals from the region.

The helicopter operation, conducted by Natural Resources SA Arid Lands and funded by the Australian Government through the Regional Land Partnerships and Pest animal and weed management in drought affected areas, was designed to help land managers to control the feral animals that pose a significant threat to the environment, infrastructure and diminishing water resources during drought.

SAAL’s Sustainable Landscapes Project Officer Paul Hodges said each of the animals posed a varying threat with pigs threatening river banks through wallowing, rooting and grazing of native vegetation, while large feral herbivores such as camels and brumbies also consume stock water, damage Aboriginal Heritage sites and other community infrastructure sites, wreck fences, foul waterholes and drainage lines, and are a threat to motorists.

“Being omnivorous, pigs also eat native fauna including frogs, lizards, turtles and ground-nesting birds and can predate on calves,” he said

“They are also a potential source of a number of diseases and parasites which could affect livestock and humans.

“During dry times, feral herbivores are especially detrimental to the environment and affect after-drought recovery.”

Paul said the nomadic nature of camels meant numbers can vary in any given area, but pigs rely on water and shade to stay cool.

Significant rains earlier this year saw the river system flow south towards Lake Eyre. Considering this and time since the last control operation may explain the increased number of pigs.

In the Coongie Lakes RAMSAR and Innamincka Regional Reserve a similar program was conducted to control feral animals. The program has run for more than 10 years in this area despite regular flows down the Cooper Creek in this period