MORE than 4600 feral animals have been shot in an aerial cull program in the Upper Hunter in less than a month.
Biosecurity officers conducted the three-week program between Merriwa and Cassilis and then from Murrurundi to the edge of the Barrington tops, areas where water and feed is critically low. The shooting took aim at pigs, deer, goats, foxes and wild dogs.
The final tally for animal controllers was 2285 pigs, 2297 deer, 38 goats, 20 foxes, and seven wild dogs.
Biosecurity team leader Luke Booth said the Feral Animal Aerial Shooting Team (FAAST) program would benefit local farms and native species battling the big dry.
“Feral pigs pose the most significant biosecurity risk to agriculture in New South Wales,” said Mr Booth.
“Not only do they carry endemic parasites and diseases that can affect both humans and other livestock, they cause significant damage to pastures, crops and native vegetation.
“The lack of water and feed means many pest species are coming closer to farms, searching for available resources, which is adding to the pressure already being felt by local landholders.”
The shoot comes in addition to a high level of baiting and trapping in the region.
“Assisting landholders to control pest species is a crucial part of our role, especially when landholders are being impacted by the current drought,” Mr Booth said.
“More intensive control programs are planned for later this year, in areas deemed at risk of pest species population booms.”