Saskatchewan

Wild boar boom a problem for Sask., animal researcher warns

A University of Saskatchewan professor says a big rise in the number of wild boars is causing problems, and the feral animals could outnumber people in Saskatchewan within a decade.

Population of feral pigs could outpace humans in 10 years

Despite their growing numbers, wild boars are difficult to track during the daytime. (Wild Hog Watch)

Call it the invasion of the wild boars. 

In just a decade, Saskatchewan could see a larger population of feral pigs than its 1.1 million human beings. 

That's according to a University of Saskatchewan professor, who says they're not cute and cuddly but potentially damaging to property and to other animals.

"Certainly, the biggest concern I would have is the potential for disease transmission," said Ryan Brook, a professor in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Saskatchewan. 

"There's quite a number of important pig diseases to be really worried about."

Brook and his team have taken to the skies via planes and a helicopter as well as using ground search crews to seek out the wild boars.

They collar them with GPS tracking devices as part of Canada's first movement study of feral pigs

"Where are these animals going? How long are they living? We do have some anecdotal evidence that suggests that there are animals that have moved to the United States from Saskatchewan," Brook said. 

An example of the root damage to property wild boars can cause. (Wild Hog Watch)

Many rural municipalities, particularly in southern Saskatchewan, have reported their findings of wild boars to the U of S search team. 

But even with their ballooning population, feral pigs are difficult to find; often emerging at night. 

A majority of the photos the team has collected are through night vision cameras. 

The challenge of finding them compared to other animals is "easily five times the work," Brook said, adding, "they are there. It's just a matter of finding them."

The team at the University of Saskatchewan says its work is focused on tracking the scope of the population and where the boars move.

Brook said they will leave it up to rural municipalities and legislators to decide what action and laws may need to be put in place. 

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