IN THE latest act of agricultural vandalism to hit the region, feral pigs are allegedly being brought into the Southern Downs and Granite Belt and released for hunting purposes.
Despite pigs costing the Queensland economy $100 million a year, some individuals appear unable to see past their sporting preferences, with the Southern Downs Regional Council yesterday issuing a warning about penalties.
A council spokeswoman said they had been receiving information about the activity, with feral pigs listed as class two pests under the Land Protection Act.
"As a declared pest, feral pigs must not be released, without reasonable excuse, other than under a declared pest permit," the spokeswoman said.
"Council advises that there are severe financial penalties for any person found to be in breach of the Act.
"The maximum penalty for the unauthorised release of feral pigs is $40,000 or 400 penalty units."
She said feral pigs had the potential to cause an enormous amount of damage to the agricultural industry.
"Financially, losses to agricultural production and continuing expenditure on pig control can be major," she said.
The feral pig can damage almost all crops from sowing to harvest, feed on seed, grain, fruit and vegetable crops, prey on lambs, damage pastures by grazing and rooting, and spread weeds.
"Feral pigs also carry many diseases and parasites," the spokeswoman said.
"Their wide habitat range, omnivorous diet and potential for rapid population growth in good seasons mean that few agricultural pursuits are unaffected by these pest animals."
Earlier this month AgForce Queensland welcomed 15 new frontline State Government pest control officers, but said more resources were needed to deal with the scourge of pest animals and plants.
Agriculture Minister John McVeigh said at the time the new frontline departmental officers would start working to help producers fight against ticks, weeds and feral pests, particularly wild dogs.
The new positions include five wild dog destruction officers, three tick officers, three crop protection officers and two pest and weed officers, as well as horticultural and fisheries staff.
Each year in Queensland weeds cost $600 million, wild dogs $33 million, while mouse plagues cost between $10m and $20m.
For further information on feral pigs and other declared pests, contact the Southern Downs Regional Council on 4661 0300 or visit daff.qld.gov.au.