Wild boars are charging cattle, eating crops, breeding like crazy and being a general nuisance, folks in southeast Saskatchewan say.
Now a group of ranchers and farmers in the area around Moose Mountain Provincial Park are banding together to kill the feral porkers, which come armed with razor-sharp tusks andcan weigh more than200 kilograms (450 pounds).
Bob Brickley, a member of the local wild boar committee, doesn't have to be told how dangerous the boars are. He's seen packs of them storming his farm and has been charged by one of the animals himself.
'Six different times they stampeded our cattle out of there and the cattle wouldn't come back.' -Area farmer Bob Brickley
"Six different times they stampeded our cattle out of there and the cattle wouldn't come back," he said. "During that episode we had six cows lose their calves and another cow break her leg. We had to puther down."
Wild boars aren't native to Saskatchewan. But after some farmers began raising them in the 1970s, a small number escaped to the wild.
It turns out the rolling hills, trees and wetlands of the areaprovided an ideal habitat.
They've thrived and according to some farmers there's a populationof about 100 of the big animals running loose in the area today.
'They become very smart and virtually impossible to get.' -Bob Brickley
They're also tearing up Moose Mountain Provincial Park, a popular camping and tourist area.
"They root through to the root systems and the tubers of the plants to find a food source and that disrupts aquatic vegetation [and] aquatic life," said conservation officer Tim Scrupps.
So what to do with these pigs gone wild?
It's not as simple as just going out and shooting them, Brickley said. For starters, the boars are smart,smarter than coyotes or deer.
Some hunters in the area say they've never pursued a more cunning animal. That's why Brickley and his group are not looking for help, despite offers from hunters across North America eager to bag boars.
Even the smell of a new person in the area can send the pigs into hiding, he said.
"You aren't going to go in there with one or two people and shoot one or two," he said. "They become very smart and virtually impossible to get."
Brickley and his committee are trying a different approach, setting up steel pens throughout the winter.
The plan is to lure the pigs in with food over several weeks until they become comfortable in the pen, then shut the door and kill the entire group.
Brickley said its important to kill as many of the boars as possible with these methods, because the animals can breed up to three times a year. As a result, it might take only a couple of boars to repopulate the area.