The NSW branch of the RSPCA is calling for an end to feral pig hunts using dogs in state forests.
The campaign comes on the heels of the NSW Game Council’s invitation to 24 hunters to participate in a trail using pig dogs to hunt feral pigs.
The trial commenced on April 30 in Nundle, Hanging Rock and Tomalla state forests in the New England area.
Only experienced, licensed hunters holding a NSW Restricted Game Hunting Licence (or R-Licence) endorsed for dogs were invited to take part in the trial.
Hunting of pigs with dogs is still a legal activity in many parts of Australia, including New South Wales and Queensland, with dogs allowed to flush out or locate feral pigs.
They are not, however, permitted to bring pigs down, and the head of RSPCA NSW, Steve Coleman, said there is no evidence to suggest the distinction is being enforced.
“The RSPCA accepts that in some circumstances there is a need to control introduced animals such as feral pigs, but we firmly believe that any control measures used must be justified, effective and humane,” Coleman said.
“This is not the case with hunting pigs with dogs. Recreational hunting of pigs does not have any significant effect in reducing the agricultural or environmental impacts of these animals; pig hunters do not apply their activities in a coordinated manner nor do they target their efforts in ways that would reduce impacts.”
Coleman said that pigs hunted with dogs are chased, held down and may be attacked and wounded by the dogs before the hunter is able to dispatch the pig.
He added that this is especially likely when dogs are poorly trained or are not called off quickly after they have located the pig.
“This means the pig has suffered considerable pain, suffering and distress prior to death,” Coleman said.
He also argued that while accredited game hunters (professional game meat harvesters) have an incentive to ensure that the pig is not mauled or injured because the carcass would not be acceptable for processing, recreational hunters have no such incentive or requirement.
“The dogs used for pig hunting are usually large mixed breed dogs that have been bred and trained by their owners specifically for this task, and during a hunt they may be fitted with large leather collars and guards to try to reduce the likelihood of injury from the pig,” Mr Coleman said.
“Not only is the use of dogs cruel to the pigs themselves, it also places the dogs in danger of injury and death. Some hunters will treat injured dogs themselves by sewing up their wounds, rather than take them for appropriate veterinary treatment.
“In addition, pig dogs are frequently lost during hunting and can end up as stray/wild dogs causing stock losses to farmers.”
The RSPCA is encouraging the public to contact politicians to make their displeasure at the activity known.
The Game Council NSW had not responded to The Veterinarian at press time.