‘No fear at all’: Escaped pigs threaten Vancouver Island golf course | Globalnews.ca

A Vancouver Island golf course could break the bank as it faces an invasion of hog proportions.

“I heard a little ‘whisper-whisper’ behind me, and my goodness, there was a big mama pig and her four little pigs,” Pat Miller, who was looking for a tournament at Cowichan Golf Club on Sunday, told Global News.

“My first reaction, of course, was, they’re so cute! And after that, we found out about the destruction that’s happening on the fairways.”

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Silly as the situation may seem, the invasive pigs have become a real headache for the club.

Lead pro Norm Jackson said the loose pigs, which he believes have been accessing the golf course through a ravine from a neighboring property, first began showing up in April.

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“They are not afraid at all. Balls go over them,” Jackson said.

He estimated there were between seven and 14 of the animals, including adults, juveniles and piglets.

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Since their uninvited arrival, the pigs have chewed up the fairways and rough in search of food, causing several thousand dollars worth of damage, so far.

“Our great concern is that they enter the greens. If they get to the greens, it becomes astronomical to have to rebuild something like that,” Jackson said.

“We are concerned about the damage they are going to do to the golf course. And obviously the safety of our members and the pigs.”

Miller said several people approached the club to help catch the pigs, and said officials were looking into how to do it.

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Ryan Brook, an associate professor in the University of Saskatchewan’s college of agriculture and biological resources, said he was “surprised” the pigs hadn’t already been trapped.

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“Invasive feral pigs are a huge global problem,” he said.

“In fact, they are considered by me and many others to be the worst invasive large mammals on the planet. So if you were to say what could be worse, I wouldn’t say anything.”

According to Brook, there are an estimated 7 million feral pigs in the US, and in Canada they have now become entrenched in a territory covering more than a million square miles.

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A pregnant sow, he said, takes less than four months to give birth to a litter of piglets, who reach sexual maturity in just a few more months, allowing them to reproduce and spread rapidly, with devastating consequences.

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“They do billions of dollars of damage to crops every year, they destroy natural environments, they eat almost anything from mice, frogs and birds… they kill off adult white-tailed deer, destroy water quality, spread disease to humans, pets and livestock. ,” he said.

Handling the animals boils down to killing or trapping them, he said. The pigs that occupy the golf course, like escaped cattle, should be easy to catch with a simple trap and bait, she added.

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“We’ve definitely missed the window for eradication (in Saskatchewan), so I think we’re a warning to the island that people really should take seriously what we failed to do and address it immediately,” he said.

“Like, before Monday those pigs should be gone, if not quicker.”

In a statement, the BC Ministry of Agriculture said containing the pigs is the responsibility of their owner.

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However, he said that once a pig leaves its owner’s property and is not captured, it becomes “wildlife” and is within the jurisdiction of government officials to capture or kill it.

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Feral hogs can be captured by a kennel keeper, a peace officer, their owner or the owner of the land they are on the loose, he said.

The ministry said it remains concerned about the risk to wild boars, but no breeding populations have been confirmed to date.

Back at the club, golfers like Miller just want to see their beloved course come out unscathed.

“We love the course and we love the people who run it, and we don’t want the course, especially the greens, to be disturbed,” he said.

“It’s a real concern, so hopefully something will happen very soon.”

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