By Lyndal Scobell

Flatback turtle eggs on the west coast of the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council, have an increased chance of hatching after an intense program resulting in the removal of 337 pigs from the area.

Apudthama Land and Sea Rangers managed the feral pig cull, which took place in the remote coastal area north-west of the Jardine Swamps. “We targeted the swamp country in the immediate vicinity of Flatback turtle nesting area first and then start to head out further when pigs were harder to locate” ranger coordinator Warren Strevens told Cape York NRM.

“This was important so that we could directly target the boars predating on turtle nests” he said. “We were keen to show if there was a reduction in pig damage to the nests when we removed these pigs which were known to be responsible for predation. So we did nightly patrols of the turtle nesting area while we were there, with no predation of nests and no pig activity evident” he said.

Six rangers were involved in the cull which had the added benefit of further developing the skills of the rangers.

“It’s really important for us to be able to manage these activities locally, as we know the country well and can access areas when others can’t.

The rangers were responsible for data recording, and planning the cull. Local management also enabled us to direct other funds towards the 9 program, making the chance of success much greater” Warren said.

Specialist skills were gleaned from professional shooter and Normanton ranger coordinator Mark Hogno, who provided his time and monitoring expertise. Cape York Weeds and Feral Animal Program provided some logistics and coordinated with Mapoon Land and Sea Rangers to align a cull at Mapoon with the Apudthama cull, reducing overall pig numbers across the landscape.

“Our rangers are highly skilled and learning more every day. Local management is logistically more effective, reducing costs and providing the opportunity for year-round natural resource activities. We are also able to directly provide Traditional Owners with fresh pigs from the cull, an important source of meat locally,” Warren said.