News

Wild pigs an ‘ecological train wreck’ for Canada: study

Wild pigs an ‘ecological train wreck’ for Canada: study
Canada
A new study out of the University of Saskatchewan is calling the growth of wild pigs on the Prairies an “ecological train wreck.”

PhD student Ruth Aschim has been studying the growth rate of the wild pig population. She explained although they are not a native species, they are thriving in Canada with no natural predators.

“They’re generalists which means they can live anywhere,” she said. “They’re omnivores which means they can eat anything and they’re reproduction rates are very high.”

From 1990 to 2000, a small pocketed population of wild pigs was recorded in each of the Prairie provinces. Over the next ten years, hybrid pigs began rapidly multiplying and spreading.

The most growth has been between 2011-17, with the pig’s territory increasing by an average of 88,000 square kilometres per year.

Aschim said it makes the hybrid pig species one of the fastest growing invasive mammals in Canada.

“They’re very destructive to our environments,” she said. “They have a rooting behaviour that will root up the vegetation and soil like a rototiller went through an area.”

Crop damage, vehicle collisions and safety are all concerns regarding the wild pig’s population.

Aschim explained disease transmission could be devastating to Canadian agriculture. African swine fever has not been reported in Canada but affecting Europe and Asia.

If the wild pig population gained infection, it could be a danger to international trade.

“Once a disease does get into a wildlife population it’s much harder to eradicate,” she said. “You don’t know which animals are infected and how far that disease spreads.”

Hunting isn’t an option for wild pig management as Aschim said there would need to be an 80 per cent cull annually to see a decrease in the population.

“They’re very intelligent,” she said. If you shoot at them and don’t kill them, now you’ve educated them and (they) will move to a new area and change their activity patterns.”

Each province currently provides its own management, but Aschim wants to see more action taken to control the population similar to an aggressive national strategy used in the United States.

In Saskatchewan, if a herd of wild pigs is identified people can report the sighting to the province’s crop insurance program or a conservation officer to deal with the problem.

Wild pigs originally derived from wild boars brought from Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Aschim explained they were brought to Canada to diversify livestock, but some escaped from domestic farms or were intentionally released into the wild to create the hybrid wild pig we see today.
Read more on globalnews.ca
News Topics :
Similar Articles :
Top Stories
That’s not legal in many parts of Canada. But, given that it’s a problem experts say cannot be solved by sport hunting, the American approach provides some lessons, should governments...
Science
Many of our ideas about domestication derive from Charles Darwin, whose ideas in turn were strongly influenced by British animal breeding practices during the 19th century, a period when landowners vigorously...
Top Stories
Rob Gau was having one of those Mondays at work where, aside from being a Monday, he had been away from the office for a week and returned to a...
World
“Fei zhu Fat pig ” 8 year old Shino Chen shouted to her younger brother as she jumped up and down and pointed at a wild boar. The hairy black pig, which must...
Canada
There is now hope for a species once considered extinct after conservationists found a den of swift foxes in southeastern Alberta. Smaller than house cats and able to run 60 kilometres...