“Diseases such as Japanese encephalitis and foot and mouth may be spread by recreational hunters who are moving feral pigs illegally,” say researchers in Australia.
According to Dr Peter Spencer of Murdoch University, the hunters are obstructing plans to control diseases among the population over 20 million feral pigs. “The threat of disease to them is enormous. Diseases such as Japanese encephalitis, which they are known to carry, has killed humans,”.
Through various investigations, Spencer identified pigs from several different clans in the same area of western Australia. These clans usually do not mix with each other, which suggests that they may have been gathered kilometres away by recreational hunters to shoot.
“Moving these animals is sinister as diseases can be easily transmitted. It is a major threat from a biosecurity point of view,” he said.
Proper tagging and prosecution for illegal transporters should be implemented.
Dr Mike Bond of Animal Health Australia refers to the illegal transport of feral pigs as a ‘nightmare’. He does not believe that policing is realistic due to the geographical aspect involved.
For him, the way forward is modifying emergency response plans and guidelines as more understanding about the epidemiology of diseases becomes widespread.