Author: Diego Flammini
Published: May 16, 2019
Wild pigs in Canada are covering more ground every year, a University of Saskatchewan (USask) study has found.
The pigs, which are a mix of wild boar and domestic swine, increased their territory by about 88,000 square kilometres (33,976 square miles) each year for the last decade. In 2017, the animals covered a range of about 750,000 square kilometres (289,576 square miles) between B.C. and Quebec.
Canada imported wild boar in the 1980s and 1990s to diversify livestock production. Breeders crossed the boar with domestic pigs because they believed the resulting pigs would have an extra rib each and be larger animals overall with higher reproductive rates.
“By hybridizing them, unfortunately, that helped to create them into super pigs that have very (high) reproductive rates,” Dr. Ryan Brook, the study’s lead researcher, told Farmscape on May 9. “We’re talking six young per litter and they’re breeding almost continuously through the year. These animals are having litters, weaning off and then quickly reproducing again.”
From an ag perspective, the pigs can cause significant damage.
The pigs feed on crops like wheat and canola, and scare livestock away from feed. In addition, the pigs’ long tusks can damage land as they forage for insects.
“From what I hear, these pigs are pretty nasty can tear a lot of stuff up,” Ryder Lee, chief executive officer of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, told Farms.com. “These pigs aren’t just a Saskatchewan issue, they’re a North American issue.”
Wild pigs cost the U.S. ag industry about US$1 billion per year, the USask study found.
Farms.com has reached out to Saskatchewan producer groups and to USask researchers for comment on the issue.
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