Feral pig hunting and feral pig management in the wet tropics of north Queensland
Carla Meurk (University of Queensland)
Paper short abstract:
I discuss the claims made by feral pig hunters about the desirabilities of hunting as a control method for feral pigs that is in keeping with their lives in the wet tropics of north Queensland, but sits in opposition to current management strategies, in a changing rural environment.
Paper long abstract:
"the feral pig is one of Australia's most destructive environmental and agricultural pests. ... Some people's activities are also making things worse. Some hunters have even deliberately released piglets and young pigs into scrub in rural areas!" (EPA/QPWS website 2008) Feral pigs are widespread in the wet tropics of north Queensland. However, agreement on and implementation of an effective long term feral pig management strategy remains elusive. My research set out to understand one aspect of this management "problem": pig hunters and their resistance to management strategies. Pig hunters have been held responsible for hunting on state land (hunting is illegal on all state owned land in Queensland), vandalism of pig traps, translocation, release of feral pigs, and other illegal acts judged by managers as undermining effective control. While resistant to managers, many hunters also actively attempt to legitimise their actions. One way in which they do this is by explicitly appealing to the moral, economic, and logistic desirabilities of hunting as a control method for feral pigs. In this paper, I present this struggle over the management of feral pigs as an attempt, by urban voices, to appropriate the rural. I contextualise claims made by hunters of their right to hunt in opposition to the views of other local and extra-local actors who have succeeded in influencing feral pig management. Specifically, I explore the moral undesirability of hunting (and hunters) in this rural area which is undergoing change from primary production to an eco-based economy.