Pig hunt success despite the squeals of opposition
GYMPIE gun shop owner Ron Owen is no stranger to dividing public opinion, but hopes his weekend pig hunt changed a few minds on the debate over how to control the feral animal.
The Queensland Big Boar Hunting Championship was held over Saturday and Sunday, attracting more than 270 hunters braving the beginning of heatwave conditions.
Mr Owen said the day, with a prize pool of more than $20,000, was "absolutely great".
The event sparked debate early last week when unidentified animal rights activists defaced one of Mr Owen's signs promoting the weekend hunt.
The handiwork of protesters failed to deter a defiant Mr Owen from staging the shoot.
A total of 329 feral pigs had been shot on public land throughout the region by the time the competition ended on Sunday.
Of this number, 135 carcasses were produced for weighing while hot conditions left some hunters able to only produce snouts.
"A lot of the time (participants) brought the snouts in," Mr Owen said.
"It was a very hot day and we lost a lot of pigs due to the heat, so they could not be weighed."
It was a minor obstacle for organisers, though, with separate classifications for the snouts, including a prize for largest diameter.
The hunt was an opportunity for an informal survey of feral pig hot spots, although hot conditions prevented this information from being noted.
"The heat meant the concern was more about refrigerating the pigs," Mr Owen said.
While the hunt disposed of 329 feral pigs, it only scratched the surface of the problem.
"It was not even a flea bite on the millions we have in the country," Mr Owen said.
Worrying the Gympie gun advocate was the good health of the pigs. "They are real healthy and have few health problems," he said.
The largest pig caught tipped the scales at 105kg after being gutted.
Mr Owen said the future of feral pig control should focus on opening up forestry areas for "block hunting" - a process allowing hunters to bid on blocks of land they then have the hunting rights to for 12 months.
It was a view shared by fellow hunter Ben Heath of Brisbane's northside.
Mr Heath pulled out at the last minute from the weekend shoot due to the hot weather.
The hunter, who learnt the skill from his father at the age of five, said baiting "wiped out" natural predators and native species and had more of an impact on the environment.
Meanwhile, Mr Owen said reluctance from The Greens and animal liberation groups to embrace hunting was "ill-conceived".