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  • Writer's pictureCarey Tate

Study Warns of Wild Pig Threat to Northern U.S. States

A study led by Ryan Brook and colleagues at the University of Saskatchewan, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, indicates that wild pigs from Canada pose a significant threat to pig-free northern U.S. states such as Montana, Minnesota, and North Dakota. The findings, published in Biological Invasions, highlight the "high potential" for these invasive swine to cross the border, prompting strong recommendations for addressing this likely expansion.

Canada's wild pig population originates from domesticated pigs and wild boars introduced in the 1980s and 1990s to diversify agriculture. Crossbreeding has led to the emergence of larger, more reproductive "superpigs." These pigs, particularly prevalent in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, are now also found in the Yukon, British Columbia, and Ontario.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry reported 80 pig sightings in the past year. Researchers face challenges tracking these nocturnal and elusive animals, relying heavily on trail cameras. Farmers like Manitoba's Ben Waddle report significant damage from pigs, despite rarely seeing them.

Brook emphasizes that hunting exacerbates the problem by making pigs more elusive. Instead, targeted trapping and culling, as practiced by groups like Squeal on Pigs Manitoba, are more effective. Ontario has banned pig hunting since 2021, a measure Brook hopes other provinces will adopt.

Brook and Waddle stress the importance of public reporting of pig sightings to manage and mitigate the spread. The situation is urgent, with Brook comparing the uncontrolled spread to a wildfire, necessitating immediate and sustained action.



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