Huntin party: Ranger Liz Dargin (left), pest management officer Lisa Wellman and pilot Matt Hollingdale, all of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, will use a helicopter to locate and set baits for feral pigs in the Newrybar Swamp area.
Huntin party: Ranger Liz Dargin (left), pest management officer Lisa Wellman and pilot Matt Hollingdale, all of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, will use a helicopter to locate and set baits for feral pigs in the Newrybar Swamp area. Jay Cronan

Feral pigs damage wetland

A PROTECTED wetland in Ballina is being seriously damaged by growing numbers of feral pigs.

National Parks and Wildlife Service pest management officer, Lisa Wellman, said the pigs were causing major environmental damage in Newrybar Swamp, partially located in the Ballina Nature Reserve, west of Lennox Head.

She said the reserve was an important habitat for a number of threatened species.

It also has mangrove and paperbark forests.

Pigs were deliberately introduced into the area for recreational hunting prior to the declaration of the Ballina Nature Reserve.

But now their numbers are on the rise and the environment is suffering.

“Feral pigs are recognised as a key threatening process at a national and state level because of the impact they cause from predation, habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission,” Ms Wellman said.

“Feral pigs degrade habitat through selective feeding, trampling and rooting for underground parts of plants and invertebrates.

“Locally, feral pigs are also causing a health and safety risk as they move across local roads and into the urban environment.”

In an attempt to control the pests, a NPWS helicopter will be used to lay baits throughout the reserve.

Work will start this week and continue throughout the month as weather permits.

Parts of the reserve are inaccessible, but the use of the helicopter will allow rangers to better target pigs across the entire area.

“We will be also conducting monitoring during the baiting to measure the effectiveness of the control method,” Ms Wellman said.

The Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority has provided $6000 to fund feral pig control on private properties.



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