It’s a billion-dollar problem in the U.S. every year – wild boars wreaking havoc as they ravage land in 39 states and counting.
It’s also become an emerging issue of serious concern in Saskatchewan, after researchers at the University of Saskatchewan began studying them in 2007.
“Wild boar are wide-spread across the province so about half of all the municipalities in Saskatchewan have observed these wild boar at least occasionally,” Dr. Ryan Brook, associate professor with the college of agriculture and bioresources, said.
“We know we have some real hot spots as well.”
A pig problem that’s becoming a big problem in our province after they were first introduced in the 1990’s as a diversification initiative.
With razor-sharp teeth, some of these boars were also very smart and escaped out of their pens where they have thrived off the land ever since.
“I would say it was a big enough mistake, I think the impact maybe wasn’t known at the time,” Darby Warner, executive director for Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC), said.
Support is provided to producers against these “rototillers of nature” when requested. SCIC fields approximately 10 to 15 calls a year, sending out a swine swat team to control populations.
“We’ll send somebody in to confirm there is wild boar in the area and then if we find those wild boar then that ground team would go in to eradicate the pigs that are in that group,” Warner said.
The issue at this point is no one can say how many are out there going hog wild.
“These animals are nocturnal, they’re highly elusive and we don’t see them that often,” Brook said.
According to Brook, the average boar in Saskatchewan weighs between 100 and 200 pounds and in some extreme cases up to 600 pounds. They have an average of six piglets per litter and can breed any time of the year having up to two to three litters a year.”
Brook’s team continues to track the movements of eight wild boars and they hope to follow 20 more in the near future.
“We can actually recapture them and euthanize groups so we can take out animals in this case for disease testing.”
Diseases from these wild boars can spread to humans, pets as well as livestock. There are fears that there are not enough hunters, in enough areas to even reduce populations let alone eliminate them if we need to.
“We’re still seeing from repeated surveys for mapping purposes, we’re seeing pigs expanding into new areas and certainly seeing high densities,” Brook said.
“Every where we look, we’re finding pigs.”
For more information or to share wild boar sightings, visit Wild Hog Watch on Facebook.