British Columbia

Wild boar populations an unmeasured menace in B.C., says researcher

Wild boar populations are spreading disease, killing native wildlife and destroying vegetation in B.C., and the worst part is we don't even know how many of them there are, says one researcher.

Female boars are incredibly fertile, producing 2-3 times per year with an average of 6 piglets per litter

Wild Boars were introduced to western provinces in the late 1980's and early 1990's, but have since become an invasive species, spreading disease and destroying native wildlife and vegetation. (Bart Jekel/Flickr)

Wild boar populations are spreading disease, killing native wildlife and destroying vegetation in British Columbia, and the worst part is we don't even know how many of them there are, says one researcher.

"They're incredibly invasive. They cause lots of economic and environmental damage, especially in terms of crop damage," said University of Saskatchewan master's student Ruth Kost

Ruth Kost is a student at the University of Saskatchewan. She is travelling across Western Canada to map out feral boar populations in the first study of its kind. (University of Saskatchewan)

That's why Kost is travelling across Western Canada to meet with conservation officers and biologists and find out what boar populations they are aware of, and what sightings landowners and farmers have reported.  

"We need to know where they are in order to start to make some management strategies for them."

Hunting not a solution

Since 2014, British Columbia has allowed boars to be hunted "anywhere and at any time" by anyone possessing a valid hunting licence.

But Kost says hunting only affects adult boars, and that relying on this as a form of population control could actually make things worse.

"Because they're fecund (fertile), the juveniles can easily sustain the population," said Kost, who noted that the average female boar can reproduce two to three times a year, with an average of six piglets per litter.

"Not only that, but it'll cause the groups of boars to split up, and then they'll recolonise new areas where they weren't there before. It really almost increases the problem."

Kost says boars are highly fecund, or fertile, and can reproduce two to three times a year, with an average of six piglets per litter.

How boars came to B.C.

Boar populations were introduced to Western Canada in the late 1980's and early 1990's as part of an initiative to broaden livestock by the Ministry of Agriculture, said Kost.

At the time, there were few rules about feral boar as a livestock species, and many animals simply escaped by digging under fences and jumping over them. 

"It wasn't a lucrative business. There were incidences of farmers just opening the gates and letting the population go into the wild."

Kost plans to begin her research in Dawson Creek by the third week of July. 

She hopes to complete a Canada-wide population map within the next year and a half so that she can present her findings to government and the public. 


To hear the full interview with Ruth Kost, listen to the audio labelled: Invasive wild boars.

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