North

Yukon farmer fined $400 after wild boars escape

The Yukon government says it may revisit the rules around keeping the species as livestock in the territory, after a months-long effort to find and kill the fugitive animals.

Yukon government may also revisit rules around keeping the species as livestock

The 7 animals escaped from a farm west of Whitehorse in June, and were sometimes spotted by residents in the area or by people driving on the Alaska Highway. The last 2 escapees were killed last week by Yukon conservation officers. (Tannis Thompson-Preete)

The Yukon farmer whose wild boars broke free this summer has been fined $400, according to the Yukon government.

The director of the territory's agriculture branch, Matt Ball, says the government may revisit its rules around livestock, now that the fugitive animals have been taken care of.

Seven wild boars escaped from a Mendenhall area farm in June, and the last two were finally found and killed by conservation officers late last week, the government said.

Officers had been laying bait in an area near the farm, and the swine returned often. Finally, the animals were shot.

"Because it was looked at as a higher risk species, the [conservation officers] came in," Ball said.

'If people follow the proper fencing [guidelines], there's, like, zero chance of escape,' said Matt Ball, director of the Yukon government's agriculture branch. (CBC)

"We really thank them — that was really great of them, when they're dealing with all the other issues, bears and everything else."

Ball said before they fled the farm, the restless swine were in a temporary pen that proved inadequate.

"The farmer's efforts to try and catch the animals were pretty good, but certainly you have to put a lot of effort in right away to ensure any livestock doesn't get out, off the farm," he said.

"We do have guidelines ... and if people follow the proper fencing [guidelines], there's, like, zero chance of escape."

The farmer was fined $100 after failing to round up his animals, and then later fined an additional $300.

Not a species to underestimate

The months-long hunt for the missing animals generated attention outside Yukon. Experts warned that the boars, or Eurasian pigs, are an invasive species that have become a major problem elsewhere in Canada.

Some have called them an "ecological trainwreck."

"This is not a species you want to underestimate," said Douglas Clark, a former Yukoner who is now an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan.

"The southwest Yukon is a place that they would have no problem surviving, reproducing and thriving."

Wild boars, or Eurasian pigs, on a farm in Michigan. The animals are considered an invasive species in much of Canada, and some people have likened them to an 'ecological trainwreck.' (John Flesher/The Associated Press)

Ball could not say whether the government would reconsider allowing Eurasian pigs to be farmed in the territory, but said "it's a good question."

Several farms in Yukon are raising wild boars, he said.

"Certainly, I wouldn't say that it's an easy thing to just say that you wouldn't allow a species in, that is currently legal," Ball said.

"It's a question that we'll be working [on] with our colleagues and the industry, over the next few months."

With files from Heather Avery

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