MID west biosecurity groups have been at the forefront of co-ordinated feral pig control across the broadacre farming landscape.
And their leadership and community engagement efforts have not gone unnoticed, after the Midlands Biosecurity Group (MBG), Central Wheatbelt Biosecurity Group (CWBG) and Northern Biosecurity Group (NBG) were invited to be a national demonstration site for feral pig management in Australia.
National Feral Pig Management co-ordinator Heather Channon facilitates the delivery of feral pig management approaches on a national, regional and local scale.
"We are working directly with pest management groups around Australia to showcase the various control strategies and monitoring methods used to reduce feral pig populations and outcomes being achieved to other groups," Dr Channon said.
"These demonstration sites will be a great extension tool to show benefits to land managers from working together, discuss latest research outcomes and support the adoption of new technologies and best practice management."
Recognition in the group's feral pig management follows endorsement of the National Feral Pig Action Plan by the National Biosecurity Committee in late October.
Dr Channon said the plan would guide and support all land managers to deliver best practice management of feral pigs and would address the significant impact of feral pigs on farms, environment, industries and communities.
Feral pigs cost the Australian agricultural sector about $106.5 million per year and $47.7m annually is spent on feral pig control by land managers.
The Midwest biosecurity groups successfully received a share of the $445,800 to WA under the $30.3m Established Pest Animals and Weeds Management Pipeline Program to monitor and control feral pig populations in the region.
A total of 90 cameras are being deployed in the region and use real-time automated image analysis of camera footage, which assists with monitoring of invasive species populations.
The images help to understand if the changes in population size are a result of targeted control or seasonal conditions.
Images are recorded when moving objects are in front of the camera and alerts are sent if this is a priority species, such as a feral pig or fox.
Most cameras would be added to the network in the next 12 months.
NBG executive officer Marieke Jansen said cameras had only been operating in the area for a couple of months and already hundreds of images with animals had been received.
Ms Jansen said it was easy to quickly analyse the data, as images could be queried by species and/or date range.
"Up until now, our groups have monitored these pests sporadically, on a small scale and in isolation from one another," Ms Jansen said.
"Collectively, we are now working towards an expansive remote camera trapping surveillance network for feral pigs (and other pests) across the northern agricultural zone.
"This will provide us with timely information on the movements and occurrence of these pests to enable effective management interventions without having to spend the time collecting SD cards, trawling through thousands of photos and recording individual pigs on an image.
"This emerging technology can be used by community groups and landholders so that they can have cost effective and long-term farm ready monitoring programs in place to manage feral pigs, and other pest animal incursions, into the future".
Operational Plans for the control of declared pests in WA are being drafted for the 2022/23 financial year.
A combined budget of $400,000 for feral pig management is being put forward by the three registered biosecurity groups in the Mid West.
These funds will be used to contract professional licensed pest management technicians, baiting and trapping programs, aerial culls and camera monitoring.
The majority of the funds is raised through the Declared Pest Rate and matched by the State government.
Ms Jansen said drier months provided a good opportunity to implement control works on properties.
Recognised biosecurity groups organise community baiting days through February and March, often free of charge, for landholders with a current restricted chemical permit to participate.
Want weekly news highlights delivered to your inbox? Sign up to the Farm Weekly newsletter.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.