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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 36(2)

Migration of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) in rainforests of north Queensland: fact or fiction?

J. Mitchell A E, W. Dorney B, R. Mayer C, J. McIlroy D

A Biosecurity Queensland, PO Box 187, Charters Towers, Qld 4820, Australia.
B Biosecurity Queensland, PO Box 20, South Johnstone, Qld 4859, Australia.
C Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, PO Box 1085, Townsville, Qld 4810, Australia.
D 38 Hempleman Drive, Akaroa 8161, New Zealand.
E Corresponding author. Email: jim.mitchell@dpi.qld.gov.au
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The Wet Tropics bioregion of north Queensland has been identified as an area of global significance. The world-heritage-listed rainforests have been invaded by feral pigs (Sus scrofa) that are perceived to cause substantial environmental damage. A community perception exists of an annual altitudinal migration of the feral-pig population. The present study describes the movements of 29 feral pigs in relation to altitudinal migration (highland, transitional and lowland areas). Feral pigs were sedentary and stayed within their home range throughout a 4-year study period. No altitudinal migration was detected; pigs moved no more than a mean distance of 1.0 km from the centre of their calculated home ranges. There was no significant difference between the mean (±95% confidence interval) aggregate home ranges for males (8.7 ± 4.3 km2, n = 15) and females (7.2 ± 1.8 km2, n = 14). No difference in home range was detected among the three altitudinal areas: 7.2 ± 2.4 km2 for highland, 6.2 ± 3.9 km2 for transitional and 9.9 ± 5.3 km2 for lowland areas. The aggregate mean home range for all pigs in the present study was 8.0 ± 2.4 km2. The study also assessed the influence seasons had on the home range of eight feral pigs on the rainforest boundary; home ranges did not significantly vary in size between the tropical wet and dry seasons, although the mean home range in the dry season (7.7 ± 6.9 km2) was more than twice the home range in the wet season (2.9 ± 0.8 km2). Heavier pigs tended to have larger home ranges. The results of the present study suggest that feral pigs are sedentary throughout the year so broad-scale control techniques need to be applied over sufficient areas to encompass individual home ranges. Control strategies need a coordinated approach if a long-term reduction in the pig population is to be achieved.

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