THE release of feral pigs within the Limestone Coast is still being investigated with two out of three outbreaks suspected to be intentional.
To date there have been three outbreaks with the first being less than 20 animals, all of which have been successfully removed.
The second outbreak was of two pregnant females which have also been successfully removed while the third outbreak was reportedly 12 animals released for personal use to a remote area of the property without the knowledge of the landowner.
Limestone Coast Landscape Board operations manager Mike Stevens said the board was still in the same process it had been going through yet still encouraged people to report pig sightings with the pigs presumably coming from New South Wales.
“The investigations we are doing are still open and we are still encouraging people to give us any information if there is a pig out there,” Mr Stevens said.
“The best option is to stop the pigs from getting here but if they are here we need to rapidly respond.
“We are suspecting all three outbreaks have been deliberate and we have two outbreaks which have been eradicated and the third one indicates there are still more.”
He said the landscape board had been continuing to remove the feral pigs with “suitable aerial shooting” while also trapping them.
“There are a couple of ideas why the pigs have been released, one is personal use as someone may want the free run population to themselves, the other could be to establish a deliberate test of population but feral pigs are also known to be a desirable hunting species which is also a possibility,” Mr Stevens said.
“Feral pigs have a multimillion dollar impact on agriculture, they can dig up and play out massive amounts of pasture in a single line but they are also quite predatory as well.
“If people have lambs, they can prey on the lambs but it also spills over into our wetland system as well including turtles, birds and other wetland ecosystems.”
Mr Stevens said the main thing the landscape board was focusing on at the moment was encouraging people to report sightings to allow the team to respond as soon as possible.
“In order to respond we need to be working in partnership with the community so we are really encouraging people to pick up the phone and give us any information they have about it or if they know of anything that is going on in the community,” he said.
“We need to make sure the pigs do not arrive here in the first place which is the key thing and we are here to help the community and work with them.”
The penalty for releasing feral pigs into the environment is either a $125,000 fine or two years in prison.