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Protecting Bullo Lakes, a High Ecological Value Aquatic Ecosystem (HEVAE)
10 Apr 2012

Since their introduction circa 1770, feral pigs have flourished in the Australian environment.  Their ability to adapt and survive, coupled with their high levels of intelligence and omnivorous diet led to them flourishing in the wild, and they are now estimated to be present through 40% of Australia (with 24 million pigs in Queensland alone) and cost the national economy more that $100 million annually.

Given the seasons we have experienced in South West Queensland over the past few years, the local environment has never looked so inviting to introduced pests such as pigs, rabbits, foxes and cats.  In particular, Bulloo Lakes - located 170km south west of Thargomindah - has seen an explosion of flora and fauna.  The lakes cover an approximate area of 82,300 hectares in full flood.  The Bulloo catchment and lake system sits between the Murray-Darling and Lake Eyre basins, and forms one of the most significant drought refuges in Arid and Southern Australia, particularly for waterfowl. The area constantly supports large populations of resident and migratory birds including threatened and protected species such as the Freckled Duck, Blue-Billed Duck, Painted Snipe, Bar-Tailed Godwit and sub-species of Grass Wren specific to the area.

The ecological importance of Bulloo Lakes prompted SWNRM in conjunction with Gibson Partership, to take action to protect the area from feral pigs in the form of a coordinated feral animal control program.  A large number of pigs have the potential to decimate the nesting bird population if left uncontrolled.  Due to the sensitivity of the area, a large scale poisoning campaign was not an option.  The physical environment would have also made trapping extremely difficult and therefor an impractical method.  After careful thought, it was decided that the most effective approach would be an intensive aerial shooting program.

Over the course of the cumulative 6 days of shooting, the joint effort netted 4100 pigs and 17 feral cats - an excellent outcome that will serve to protect the waterbirds of the area for some time.

Environment Rural/Regional
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