Pesky Pickering Wild Pigs Successfully Eliminated! By George Charbonneau from South West Ontario Veterinary Services

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Preventing the spread of wild pigs in Ontario is an important opportunity for Ontario. Wild pigs are considered one of the most damaging invasive species in North America and have been called

an ‘ecological train wreck’ for the sheer damage they can cause to a number of native wildlife habitats and commercial agricultural crops. They can be direct predators and indirectly compete for finite food resources when they invade an area. We recently reported that there was a Eurasian wild pig sounder that was sighted in the Pickering area.

There is some very good news from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources indicating that after a month long effort they had successfully trapped and culled 14 wild boars that were roaming in that area. Officials used technology such as drones and corral traps to help track and round up the wild Eurasian pigs. The Ministry worked with residents in the area to find out where the pigs were going and placed bait and trail cams in frequented spots. They rounded up 11 by baiting them, after following their habits and movements. Three got away but were captured a few days later. The pigs were humanely euthanized after being trapped. The pigs will be examined in order assess their condition and any potential diseases that they might be carrying. It is suspected that these Eurasian pigs probably escaped from a farm. Many US States and Canadian Provinces would love to be able to turn back the clock to a time before their wild pig populations exploded. Associate Professor Ryan Brook, from the University of Saskatchewan, is a wild pig expert. He has been working on a massive wild pig problem for twenty years. Brook has applauded the swift action that Ontario has taken.

The State of Colorado is an example of a US state that had successfully eradicated their small wild pig population. After receiving tips from the general public, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officers recently confiscated illegal feral wild pigs from a farm in El Paso County. Those pigs later tested positive for pseudorabies, a fatal disease that can be spread to other livestock and domestic animals. The pigs were illegally brought in to the state from Texas. CPW and the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) are reminding the public that it is illegal to bring invasive species such as feral swine into Colorado.

The  US domestic pig herd was declared free of Pseudorabies or Aujesky’s disease back in 2005. Some people don’t realize that the Pseudorabies virus can still be found in feral pigs in the USA.

The techniques used in controlling the wild pig population are constantly improving. Hunting is no longer used as it simply causes the group to disperse more widely and to take on a more nocturnal pattern. Baiting that brings the sounder into a large corral allows for trapping and humane euthanasia. Drones are helping with tracking. Water samples from streams that traverse very thick brush can indicate whether or not there are wild pigs in that area based on evidence of pig DNA found in the water. The ban on hunting pigs in Ontario as well as the closure of Eurasian Wild Boar farms will help to achieve eradication of the wild pig population but we will need to work hard to get there.

Submitted by George Charbonneau, DVM