Economics of Feral Pig Control

David Smorfitt (2011). Economics of Feral Pig Control PhD Thesis, School of Economics, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author David Smorfitt
Thesis Title Economics of Feral Pig Control
School, Centre or Institute School of Economics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-03
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor A/Prof S. Harrison
Dr J Herbohn
Prof C. Tisdell
Total pages 425
Total colour pages 74
Total black and white pages 351
Language eng
Subjects 14 Economics
Abstract/Summary Abstract The ‘globalisation’ of plants and animals has been assisted by the move of international communities towards free trade and globalisation. Internationalisation of business and commensurate improved means and speed of transport has resulted in humans, animals and plants moving around the world, sometimes intentionally and in other cases as unintended hitchhikers. Pest animals introduced into new environments without natural balances can result in high costs to the economy into which they are introduced. Whilst prevention of entry of feral pests is desirable, their presence imposes a need for control. Resource allocation issues arise concerning whether eradication is desired, and if so, whether it is technically feasible and economically justified. If an eradication strategy is not selected, the question arises as to what level of management and which control instruments should be applied to pest populations. Feral pigs, a well-established feral pest in Australia introduced by early colonists, cause crop and environmental damage necessitating control costs to landholders and public land management agencies. The research problem addressed in this thesis was ‘What is the optimal control strategy, including instruments and intensity, for feral pigs in the horticultural cropping area of tropical north Queensland?’ In examining this research problem the following research questions are examined: ‘What is the cost of the sugar cane and banana crop damage caused by feral pigs in north Queensland’; ‘What are the current feral pig management techniques utilised by north Queensland banana and cane farmers and what are the success rates and costs associated with the management techniques utilised?’; ‘What is the damage cost to the environment caused by feral pigs?’; ‘Is regional eradication in north Queensland technically feasible and is it economically preferable to the maintenance expenditure incurred in living with the continued presence of feral pigs?’ and ‘What is the optimal control strategy for feral pigs by stakeholders in the horticultural crop areas in the Wet Tropics of north Queensland?’ Addressing the research problem and questions necessitated a literature review to comprehend the economic nature of the problem associated with feral pigs. This required examination of legislation that affects feral pig management and hence a landholder’s property rights. Obligations imposed and restrictions placed on landholders with respect to feral pig management have commensurate costs. Alternative modelling techniques and research approaches were assessed and it was decided that a form of cost-benefit analysis – estimation of the damage cost and control cost trade-off curve for alternative control strategies – would be utilised. This necessitated the development of the bio-economic simulation Feral Pig Management Model (FPMM). The types, nature and effectiveness of the control instruments and control tools and their respective costs were examined to determine the appropriate controls for feral pig management in the Wet Tropics of north Queensland. A case study in the Wet Tropics of horticultural crop damage and feral pig control involving 11 banana and 19 sugar cane farms was undertaken in conjunction with Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) officers. The horticultural crop damage from the case study farms was subsequently used, together with other data, to estimate damage for the Wet Tropics region with the aid of a Geographic Information System (GIS). For the broader socio-economic study, the damage that feral pigs cause to the environment was examined. To compare control strategies for feral pigs the author developed the FPMM using Excel and visual basic coding. The model was developed with continuing consultation with a number of people involved in feral pig management, and was presented to a number of feral pig experts for validation purposes, specifically with respect to model assumptions, most likely parameter values and alternative feral pig control strategies. The FPMM permitted alternative strategies to be ranked in terms of the lowest present value of damage and control costs combined, and the optimal strategy to be identified. A damage cost and control cost trade-off curve was developed permitting the optimal strategy to be identified. Sensitivity analysis was undertaken to assess the affect changes to parameter values had on the strategy ranking. The analysis revealed that eradication of feral pigs on a national or regional level is highly unlikely to be achieved and would incur unacceptable costs. The highest ranking strategies – having the lowest present values of aggregate feral pig damage and control costs over a 20-year planning horizon – involved regular control intervention, at a relatively high intensity. There are still substantial gaps in the information available to undertake a comprehensive socio-economic analysis of the feral pig and feral pest problem in general in Australia and various useful further research studies can be identified. For example, research into the carrying capacity of the Wet Tropics (feral pigs/km2) and whether the carrying capacity changes from one season to the next is required. Carrying capacity is a critical factor because it creates a ‘ceiling’ or upper limit below which an unmanaged feral pig population would fluctuate. Many of the modelling issues that came to the fore in this research would be equally applicable to other vertebrate pests and could be applied in research on other pest mammals.
Keyword simulation modelling, bio-economic modelling, wet tropics, north Queensland, management strategy
Additional Notes Page number as per pdf Colour Landscape 72 * 73 * 83 * * 122 * 140-142 * 171 * 184 * 189 * * 190 * 194 * 200 * 207 * 217 * 218 * 222 * 224 * 225 * * 226 * 227 * * 239 * 249-251 * * 254-257 * * 258 * 259 * * 260 * 265 * * 267-268 * * 269-270 * 271 * * 272-273 * 274 * * 277-281 * * 299 * 302 * 326 * * 330 * 332 * 336 * 343-346 * 351 * 359-365 * 372 * 373 * 374-378 * 381 * * 383-386 * 395-421 * * TOTAL 74 81

 
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Created: Thu, 15 Dec 2011, 14:15:34 EST by Mr David Smorfitt on behalf of Library - Information Access Service