Understanding Wild Pigs in Ontario

Oct 07, 2019

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Photo credit: Dr. Ryan Brook, University of Saskatchewan.
Feral pigs that escape from farms adapt well to life in the wild, and they pose a big threat to Ontario’s natural environment.
 
Photo credit: Dr. Ryan Brook, University of Saskatchewan.
Wild pigs eat pretty much anything and can live in virtually any habitat. Once established in a territory, they can be very difficult to get rid of.
 
MNRF Enlists Public’s Help in Determining Wild Pig Numbers
 
Canada’s natural environment is being impacted by invasive species that range from fungi to fish, but few have as much destructive potential as wild pigs.
 
Invasive species like wild pigs can cause damage to habitats and native species, and can be nearly impossible to get rid of once they become established.
 
That’s why Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is asking for your help to quantify one of North America’s most destructive invasive species.
 
Understanding the threat of invasive wild pigs
 
Eurasian wild boars were brought to Canada as exotic livestock for meat and other purposes, beginning in the 1980s. Some escaped into the wild, causing damage to crops and natural habitat across the country, mainly in the prairie provinces.
 
But Eurasian wild boars are not alone in the equation. Escaped, or “feral” domestic pigs from farms adapt well to life in the wild and can have the same impact as their wild cousins. They are the same species (Sus scrofa) and they can easily breed with Eurasian wild boar — which is why as an invasive species they are collectively known as wild pigs.
 
With a high birth rate, few natural predators, and the ability to travel long distances and adapt to pretty much any habitat, a handful of escaped animals has the potential to multiply exponentially.
 
Wild pigs eat almost anything, can happily live in virtually any climate, and their nocturnal lifestyle and elusive behaviour can make them very difficult to spot.
 
Often their presence is only indicated by the damage they leave behind.
 
In their search for food, they tear up crops and pastures, causing tremendous damage to farming areas. They also cause serious harm to sensitive ecosystems by rooting in soil for plants, reptiles, and amphibians.
 
“We thank those who have already reported sightings — from the French River down to Lake Erie and east to the Ottawa Valley,” said Dr. Erin Koen, research scientist with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. “We are asking anyone who spots a wild pig to let us know. Once wild pigs become established in a territory, they are almost impossible to eliminate.”
 
How to report a wild pig sighting
 
There is still time to manage the problem in this province, and that’s why MNRF is looking to Ontarians for help by asking them to report sightings of any pig they see outside of a fence.
 
Sightings will help the ministry gather information about the locations, number, and behaviour of wild pigs in the province, and will help to determine an appropriate response.
Source : Ontario