Ryan Brook has been researching and tracking wild pigs and extremely invasive species across Saskatchewan and Western Canada for over a decade, recording over 54,000 wild pig occurrences over that span.
Over the years he and his team with the Canadian Wild Pig Research Project have spent countless hours compiling data on the ever-growing population of hogs using trail cams, GPS trackers and first-person sightings.
“(I’ve) probably (received) 12-14 messages a day, seven days a week for the last ten years,” the University of Saskatchewan associate professor of agriculture and bioresources said.
Brook took all of the data he’s collected over the years and used it to create a ‘pig-pointed’ map. The map can be downloaded and then layered over top of google earth, highlighting the presence of pigs in the provinces’ rural municipalities.
“This is thousands of hours of effort,” he admitted. “You spend a lot more time preparing the data, and actually mapping it is fairly painless.”
Through his research, Brook discovered that Saskatchewan is in fact the hog hotbed of Canada, with the most pig sightings coming in the east-central portion of the province.
“(If you drew) a 50-mile circle around St. Brieux, that area is by far the hotspot in Canada,” he explained. “That’s a permanent hotspot for pigs, for the next thousand years they’ll be there.”
He said there are three major contributing factors to the swine infestation in that small pocket of the prairies.
One is a number of wild boar farms that were once in the area, dealt with escapes or releases, as well as “nice, big, large chunks of forest, lots of pothole, cattail wetlands, and agricultural crops,” he said. “And those (along with the boar farm locations) are largely the major drives of pigs.”