While the population of this pest is low, farmers should still be aware of risk
By Jackie Clark
Ontarians have sighted wild pigs which pose a risk to natural ecosystems and agriculture.
“Based on reported sightings to date, Ontario’s wild pig population appears to be small,” Jolanta Kowalski, spokesperson at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNR&F), said in a statement to Farms.com.
Wild pigs usually come from farm escapes, either wild European boars which were kept as exotic livestock or “feral” domestic pigs, the MNR&F said in a statement released Oct. 7. Wild pigs can reproduce rapidly, exhibit nocturnal and elusive behavior, and have the potential to be very destructive, according to the release.
Officials have not yet formally assessed damages due to wild pigs in Ontario. “But the potential for rapid growth of these populations, and the associated damages to both agricultural crops and natural ecosystems, have been clearly demonstrated in other jurisdictions, including Western Canada,” said Kirsty Denette, media relations strategist from OMAFRA, to Farms.com.
Risk of disease transmission to domestic pigs exists, too. “Wild pigs are the same species as domestic swine and are therefore susceptible to and can transmit the same diseases, including African swine fever (ASF). While ASF has not been reported in North America and is not a risk to people or the food supply, it is a devastating disease in pigs. Wild pigs have played a significant role in transmission of ASF in Europe and Asia,” Denette said.
“Be very diligent about biosecurity practices. If wild pigs are in the area, the ground may be contaminated with feces which could easily be inadvertently transferred into a commercial swine barn on clothing or footwear,” she said.
In order to minimize risk, farmers should promptly clean up spilled feed or manure on their properties that may attract wild pigs, Denette explained. If you have pigs that spend time outside, ensure fencing is secure. If any escapes occur, you must find the pig and return or destroy it to prevent breeding with wild pigs, she added.
The MNR&F is seeking input from anyone who may have seen wild pigs in Ontario. Officials are asking the public to “report any sightings, including a photo and description, on the iNaturalist Ontario Wild Pig Reporting webpage by downloading the app or registering an account online, or to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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