OSPRI are advising pig hunters not to release and relocate pigs into new areas. Not only is it illegal, but it can also spread diseases such as bovine TB and restrict hunting in the area.
Over the years, OSPRI has worked to eradicate TB in possums from large areas of New Zealand such as the Hawke’s Bay. In November 2021, OSPRI announced it had conducted aerial operations in the Hawke’s Bay covering 30,000 hectares. As part of the TBfree programme, OSPRI has committed to eradicate TB in livestock by 2026, eradicate TB in possums by 2040 and wipe out TB from all hosts by 2055.
OSPRI’s North Island regional partner Phil Dawson says this work can all be undone by the reintroduction of TB infected pigs with the potential of spill back of infection into the possum population.
“Essentially moving and releasing pigs from one area to another area can also introduce TB into an area. Possums can scavenge a hunted pig carcass or offal and get infected with TB.”
Te Kuiti Pig Hunting Club life member Steve McFall explains that anyone who is releasing pigs from an area that is infected with TB is putting pig hunting at risk and could severely restrict hunting in that region.
“The ramifications for livestock are huge, and it also negatively impacts the pig hunter because if TB is found in wildlife in the region any control measures taken can interrupt hunting in that area.”
“I’ve had the example of this in my own region – back in 2016 or 2017 when a pig was caught and tested positive for bovine TB, the DNA from the head showed it was from Hawke’s Bay. There we were in King Country, so our area had to have livestock movement restrictions until we were in the clear.”
The problem with pigs, explains McFall is that while they are considered a dead-end (which means they can’t spread TB), once the offal is gutted and left behind, that offal can be eaten by scavengers such as possums and ferrets and they in turn can spread the disease.
“To rid the area of TB may well mean the use of 1080 aerial control which can severely restrict hunting in the area and the use of dogs for many months as well restricting movement of cattle and deer. This is obviously not a happy situation for anyone, hunters and farmers alike,” says McFall.
McFall is also reminding pig hunters in the Far North to keep pigs away from areas that have been cleared to protect Kauri forest.
For further information about this and what to do if you come across a pig with suspicious lesions, please visit: TB information for deer and pig hunters | OSPRI