Here’s a new wrinkle of the animal kingdom: Invasive wild pigs are a thing in Ontario.
A herd of wild boar was spotted in the Pickering area this week, a development being watched carefully by Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MISTER).
Wild pigs are an invasive species.
A Pickering resident saw the wild boars in his yard, counting 14 in total in the area. They appear to be Eurasian wild boars.
There is a section dedicated to wild pigs on the MNR website that allows people to report animals. It includes the information that domesticated pigs descended from the Eurasian wild boar thousands of years ago, which is why escaped domesticated pigs that go wild come to resemble their wild boar ancestors. They can quickly develop a dense coat in cold weather if necessary, for example.
Any pig that runs freely and is not under the physical control of a person is considered a wild pig.
They can be farm pigs, domestic pigs or Eurasian wild boars; notes the province, “a small number of Eurasian wild boars have been imported and raised as alternative livestock on farms for meat.”
The Eurasian wild boar and its hybrids play a larger role in the establishment and spread of wild pigs and will be phased out from Ontario by 2024. Importing or owning them is prohibited after January 1, 2022, but current owners may have two -Annual exception: if you notify the ministry before March 1, 2022.
Wild hogs are considered a significant threat to Ontario’s $ 24 billion swine industry.
They are not native to Ontario and can have a negative effect on vegetation. They also compete with other wild animals for food, water, and space. Their trampling, rooting, and wallowing habits are detrimental to water quality and can contribute to erosion.
They damage crops and gardens and can transmit diseases to other wildlife, pets, and people.
And they reproduce easily, so the wild pig population spreads quickly.
However, according to Dr. Erin Koen, an MNR scientist in the Wildlife Research and Monitoring Section, they are not really established yet (ie, self-sustaining and reproductive).
“We have no reason to believe at this point that any of these animals were born in the wild,” Koen said, adding that there are probably a small number of wild pigs scattered throughout southern, central and eastern Ontario.
At this time, most appear to be recently escaped cattle.
“Ongoing surveillance and monitoring are essential to prevent the establishment of this invasive species.”
The group seen at Pickering will be lured with bait and removed along with a corral trap.
Wild boar hunting is not a solution and, in fact, it is prohibited as of January 1, 2022.
Previous attempts to hunt wild boar exacerbate the problem by moving the animals to new areas, speeding up their spread rather than reducing it. Pigs are highly intelligent animals and they don’t need any additional incentive to avoid humans.
There are no reports of wild pigs attacking people in Ontario. However, as with all wild animals, it is wise to avoid wild boars, keep pets away from them, and never feed wild animals.
Report any wild boar sightings at [email protected] or 1-833-933-2355.