Legislative Council: Thursday, October 20, 2022


Kangaroo Island, Feral Pigs

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (14:36): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister update the chamber on the eradication of feral pigs on Kangaroo Island?

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Can we actually listen to the answer before we even start to interject?

The Hon. H.M. Girolamo interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order, the Hon. Ms Girolamo!

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:36): I thank the honourable member for this question. Last week, I was pleased to visit Kangaroo Island, which of course is a beautiful part of our state. I was joined by the local member of parliament representing the Kangaroo Island area, the member for Mawson in the other place. We had the opportunity to speak with farmers and PIRSA staff about a range of biosecurity matters, including the ongoing efforts to eradicate feral pigs from Kangaroo Island.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: The honourable Leader of the Government, the honourable Whip and the Hon. Mr Wortley, it is your question, please listen to the answer.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: It is not a conversation, the Hon. Mr Wortley. Minister, please continue.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The eradication efforts started in the wake of the devastating 2019-20 bushfires. The project has removed 861 feral pigs, with fewer than 30 pigs estimated to remain. The final thermally assisted aerial cull will take place between April and June next year when it is hoped to eradicate all feral pigs from the island.

The three-year $5.6 million program to eradicate feral pigs is a partnership between the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, who worked closely with Livestock SA, KI Land for Wildlife and other local stakeholders, including landowners, to find and destroy feral pigs. It is funded by the state and commonwealth government Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA). This project has been made possible through the Local Economic Recovery Program, funded by the Australian and South Australian governments under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

While on Kangaroo Island last week it was great to speak with PIRSA's pig eradication coordinator, Matt Korcz. Matt is one of five PIRSA staff working full-time on the pig eradication efforts. I understand feral pigs were actually released by early settlers on the island as a hunting resource, and as a result of that, I must say terrible decision, we have seen in particular the western half of Kangaroo Island inundated with the feral pest.

Feral pigs rip up pastures, they prey on native flora and fauna, they pollute water sources, damage fencing and have also been known to prey on lambs. However, one of the outcomes of the devastating bushfires on Kangaroo Island back in 2019-20 was the significant dent in the feral pig population that occurred.

I understand that before the fires the feral population was as high as 10,000 pigs, and as a result of the fires close to 90 per cent were wiped out—90 per cent—and this has allowed for a collaboration between the local landscape board, the commonwealth and state governments, and industry to work together towards fully wiping out this pest from the island once and for all.

I want to particularly thank the PIRSA staff working on this cull for their dedication to the project. The complete eradication of feral pigs will lead to many benefits for the island. I am advised also that the program is running ahead of schedule. I'm looking forward to further being updated on the cull when it gets underway again between April and June next year. As I said previously, we believe there to be fewer than 30 remaining feral pigs, and I look forward to being able to update the council once more when the eradication efforts are complete.