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7 December 2020
Welcome to our November Newsletter.

This month, we’re providing updates on the drafting of the Action Plan, our Information Hub, some current research being undertaken and outcomes of our recent survey.
 
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Progress with drafting the Action Plan
The pending deadline for the draft National Feral Pig Action Plan (The Plan) is 15 January 2021. While this date is creeping ever closer, we are pleased to report that the draft Plan is well on-track, with the Steering Group meeting a fortnight ago to provide further feedback and comments.
 
After the draft Plan is finalised and submitted to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), it will be made available to our many stakeholders for review and comment, before being provided to the Environment and Invasives Committee for final review by the States and Territories. It will then go to the National Biosecurity Committee for endorsement.
 
We are planning to provide our stakeholders with an official update of our progress on Monday, 21 December via either a short online forum or as a webinar. Please pencil in the date and we'll be in touch to provide more information on this over the coming fortnight. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
Survey outcomes
The report from the NFPAP survey has now been completed. It can be sourced from our website here. We also distributed a Media Release on 24 November 2020, together with an accompanying fact sheet, highlighting some of our key findings. Both assets can be found in the Resources section of our website.
Enhancing Surveillance of the Northern Australian Feral Pig Population
Charles Darwin University (CDU) is working together with the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy and Diversity Arrays on a DAWE funded project as part of their Biosecurity Innovation Program. 

The project, being led by
Hamish Campbell and Sam Banks from CDU, aims to develop tools to enhance surveillance of the northern Australian feral pig population that can be used to model potential patterns of disease spread if a new disease, such as African swine fever, enters the feral pig population in northern Australia. The project outcomes will help to identify boundaries of feral pig populations and inform feral pig culling programs to minimise population recovery and immediate re-entry of pigs into areas from which pigs had been culled.

Over 1,500 feral pig samples from across northern Australia have been collected, and the genetic information obtained from these samples is being used to map the movements of feral pigs (either natural or human-assisted) across the landscape, the connectivity of feral pig populations and the presence of any geographic barriers to movement. 

Analysis of the first 600 samples has shown that the power to identify different population units of feral pigs, identify natural barriers and track the history of recent introductions is high. The sampling location of feral pigs is shown in Map 1, with the pie charts indicating their assignment to the major genetic clusters of feral pigs in northern Australia. The genetic data will also be used to understand how these patterns are shaped by landscape barriers and habitat suitability for feral pigs. Work to refine this analysis is ongoing.

 
Samples being used in this work have been focussed on northern Australia from NAQS operations and partnerships with regional NRM organisations, landholders and recreational hunters (see map below). Planned future extensions of this work involve developing a cost-effective genetic assay, as well as a nationwide feral pig population map with an accessible sample submission framework and publicly-available, interactive online data. 

The team is looking for samples from other areas in Australia, so if you or your organisation can help please contact Dr Stacey Kopf who is working on this project at feralpigmap@cdu.edu.au
Further updates on this project will be made available as they come to hand.
In the news
Information Hub
The Information Hub, that we presented during our third Stakeholder Forum, is expected to be launched in mid-January 2021. The aim of the Hub is to showcase management activities and research programs that are underway in each state and territory, building a stronger awareness of the work being done on the ground to manage and mitigate feral pig populations.
 
We will be in touch with many of you over the next week or so to obtain feedback on the information that has been prepared about your program, and to seek your approval for it to be included on the site.
 
Stay tuned for the public announcement of the Info Hub, and please
contact us to help this dynamic Hub grow and become a useful resource.
Stakeholder Forums
For those who missed the last Stakeholder Forum held on 27 October 2020, recordings of the presentations are available on our website here.
 
As noted above, the next Stakeholder Forum (and last forum for the year) is scheduled for Monday, 21 December 2020. Details are currently being finalised and will be made available soon.
ASF Feral Pig Task Group
In October 2019, the Animal Health Committee established the ASF feral pig task group to provide specific advice on feral pig populations in Australia in the event of an ASF incursion to inform emergency animal disease response plans.
 
The final report prepared by the working group has been provided to us and can be downloaded from our website
here.
Photographers
Thanks to all those who provided photos of feral pigs following our request in the October newsletter. We are very grateful for the resources – particularly with the COVID restrictions that have been in place – and look forward to getting out and about to meet with many of you shortly.
 
If you would still like to contribute feral pig photos to our resource library, please contact us by one of the platforms listed on our website. There is no deadline!

Some of these contributions have been included below.
Feral pig research, Learning on Country program, Maningrida, NT. Source: Alex Ernst, Learning on Country
Peanut crop loss due to feral pigs, Bundaberg, QLD. Source: Prof Ben Allen, University of Southern Queensland
Hogeye Feral Pig Video Trapping System
Source: Daniel Lewer, Hunter Land Management, NSW
Wetland damage due to feral pigs, Hinchinbrook Shire, QLD. Source: Lawrence Di Bella, Herbert Cane Productivity
Australasian Wildlife Management Society – Annual Conference 
8-10 December 2020
 
The Australasian Wildlife Management Society (AWMS) promotes the use of science to identify appropriate wildlife management practices, and develop, implement and review management plans in a social, environmental, economic and political context. This process involves research scientists, educators, wildlife managers and policy professionals.
 
The
AWMS2020 conference is a free event, and there are two methods of attendance:
  1.  Zoom link (registration required, spaces are limited)
  2. Live stream on the AWMS Facebook page (no registration required)
New Animal Welfare Act In Victoria – Victorians, Have Your Say

Visit Engage Victoria to access the directions paper and summary of proposals. There is also a platform for you to submit your feedback. 

For further information or to get in touch, please use the contact details below:

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