COLUMN: Wild pigs are a threat to our natural environment

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While fictional pigs are cute, live real wild pigs could be “ecological disaster about to sweep across southern Ontario farmland,” columnist warns

Just because you’ve harvested the yard, snow tires, and storm windows in place, you may think you have nothing to worry about. Well guess again… you must be worried about the pigs.

Yes, pigs, those cute characters that tend to populate children’s books and movies, are a looming threat to Ontario. So much so that as of January 1, 2022, you will no longer be allowed to take your pig to a provincial park or conservation reserve, or to let your pigs roam free in the great outdoors. It’s a new law that’s coming and it doesn’t matter whether or not they wear a mask. No pigs. Period.

As for the farmers who raise pigs, I don’t think too many of them actually take their vacations with their cattle, so there should be little harm there. They are also not releasing them into the wild (a very bad ROI).

So why have Porky Pig, Miss Piggy, Wilbur, Arnold Ziffel, Babe, Porcinet, Hamm, Pumba and those three little mustached engineers been targeted so brutally? Well, the truth is, it’s not the fictional characters who are to blame, it’s the real living wild pigs that are the ecological disaster about to sweep the farmlands of southern Ontario.

Wild pigs, also known as wild boars, have started to make their presence known in Ontario, with the latest report of 14 pigs on the loose near Pickering. Due to their rooting and rooting, the damage to the natural environment can be significant. In the United States, damage to agricultural crops is about $ 2 billion a year and increasing.

As one biologist put it, “wherever you find white-tailed deer, you might find wild pigs.” So where do they come from and how do you get rid of them?

In the early 1980s, Agriculture Canada began authorizing the breeding of European wild boar, both as a source of meat and as a controlled hunting experiment. And like any type of cattle, it is only a matter of time until a few escape. What they did in Saskatchewan and Alberta. These provinces are now breaking the piggy bank to get rid of the savages.

Like any invasive species, it is worth studying them to find their weaknesses. Pigs can live up to 25 years and reach human adult weight and above.

They have razor sharp tusks to tear at roots and have a penchant for corn and wheat crops. A group of pigs is called a pollster, and pollsters are made up of females (sisters, mom, grandmother, great-grandmother, etc.).

Male pigs (wild boars) tend to be solitary, but roam large areas in search of females. Young pigs reach sexual maturity at six months and may have two litters per year with around 10 piglets per litter. A sounder can hold 10 to 60 animals.

These wild pigs are very secretive and often only come out at nightfall to plow the local fields. Video from Texas shows holes several meters deep across large fields; seems they like to make tractor traps!

Another challenge with managing pigs is that they are smart. And adaptable. This is where the problem lies with us humans who like to think that shooting an animal on sight will help solve the problem. This technique makes things much worse.

In case of sounder fire, the shooter can in fact eliminate one or two from the group. As one biologist noted, “If the sounder has 12 animals and pulls 10, the effort is unsuccessful.” The reason is that all survivors quickly learn which areas to avoid, bad times to show your muzzle and if the neighborhood has collapsed… disperse and run!

Anyone remember playing with a drop of mercury as a child? A drop, but if you touch it, it breaks into several drops. And each drop, when touched, breaks into several other smaller drops. Same thing with pigs. (And you wondered when this experience of playing with a broken thermometer would pay off?)

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters opposes their hunt, knowing that individual killings will only lead to a dispersal of survivors over a larger area. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MRNF) is also strongly opposed to any pressure to hunt these animals. Unless the whole sounder can be knocked out (maybe through huge living trap pens?) Then any pressure on the pigs will only make the situation worse.

I thought I met a boar a few years ago on the Carden road. A photographer showed me photos he had taken (attached to this article) and I sounded the alarm to the MRNF who responded very quickly. Close examination of the footage revealed that the beast was a pot-bellied pig raised on the farm, and not a wild European boar. He was rounded up and driven home.

While my ID may not have been 100%, every sighting of a pig outside a fenced area is now cause for alarm. Domestic pigs, pot-bellied companion pigs or European wild boars…. All of them are capable of going wild and producing a breed of super pigs that tear through habitat faster than a beaver can dyke a stream.

I encourage you to check out a few websites and familiarize yourself with the challenge. If you see such a beast, take a photo, note the location, and email [email protected]

As with any invasive species, we need to hit it early and hit it hard… otherwise, we’ll be up to our collective pork chops in wild pig damage.


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