ACT News

Pig hunter says using dogs is ethical and humane

Pig hunter Ned Makim with his hunting dogs, Dave and Mary.
Pig hunter Ned Makim with his hunting dogs, Dave and Mary. Photo: supplied

Pig hunter Ned Makim says the sport is not gladiatorial as many people may believe, and does not involve big, vicious dogs.

Commenting on reports of illegal hunters removing the ears from feral pigs to avoid capture in Namadgi National Park, Mr Makin said these stories were often trotted out, but he was yet to see evidence of it.

"It doesn't make any sense. If the pig has no ears the dog will grab the cheek. The dog just doesn't stop grabbing the pig, the dog will still grab the pig," Mr Makim said.

 A spokesman for Australian Pig Doggers and Hunters Association, Mr Makim said thousands of people hunted with permission and co-operation of landholders and managers, and in NSW state forests declared for hunting through a restricted game hunting licence system.

He said correctly trained, two dogs should be able to bail up a pig and hold it  while the hunter cut its throat or stabbed it through the heart, which brought about death as swiftly as it would if the animal was shot.

"The pigs don't need to be stirred up any more than necessary,'' he said. "Ideally the dog is holding them by the ear, which is a nice leathery thing a dog can get hold of and do the least potential for damage to the pig.''

Advertisement

Mr Makim says the stress felt by pigs was of the same level endured by all wild and domestic animals in an abattoir.

"Stress is part of the natural order of life,'' he said. "As individuals we all go through stress. The object of the exercise is to minimise that stress.

"We are not saying use of dogs is the solution for managing pigs in every circumstance. In thick country, or blackberry-ridden country, using dogs is the best option for locating the pigs and being able to kill them as quickly as possible."

Mr Makim 54, a contract gardener in summer and feral animal contractor in winter, has been breeding wolf hound and bull terrier breeds since 1986.

He aims for a dingo-sized dog with a big heart, rather than a big frame.

"That's the natural size for your average dog,'' he said. "If you look around the world, the standard size, left alone to breed by itself, jackals, coyotes, Asiatic wolves, dingoes, all end up around the same size."

He says a dog in a well-ordered pack is happier when it has something to do and when someone which it sees as a strong dog, is in charge. "You grow to love these dogs, they will work so hard for you,'' he said.

"We draw the line between a working pig dog and a problem dog, who looks like a dog who might catch a pig. It's a catch-all term that is used to describe any dog that looks scary or does the wrong thing.''

In the tense moment before killing a pig, the hunter could not afford to have an unstable dog.

"They have to bark at a pig, grab it and let go on demand when you say, that's what (type of dog) majority of legal, ethical hunters have,'' Mr Makim said.

"It is practical to have things as calm as possible if you are going to place a surgical cut into a pig. You want things as calm as possible, you can't do that if you have dogs that are mindless."