Boom in boar population could cause 'significant issues,' Sask. researcher warns
Wild boars can destroy crops and habitats, harass livestock and harm people
As wild boar sightings rise dramatically in the province, one researcher is hoping to find out just how many of the pigs there are in Saskatchewan so measures can be taken to control the population growth.
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"In the late '80s, early '90s, they were brought over from Europe and Asia and raised as meat," said Ryan Brook, an associate professor in the University of Saskatchewan's college of agriculture and bioresources.
"What happened is a lot of animals escaped, and many producers went out of business and just cut their fence and let them go. They've really taken off in the wild."
Brook has compiled a map that shows rural municipalities that have had sightings of wild boars. But he says it's very difficult to determine exactly how many of the boars there are in the province.
"As soon as you make a map that shows where the pigs are and how dense they are, I think that changes almost immediately, they're growing so quickly. We're really seeing a tremendous amount of expansion in Saskatchewan."
The rising numbers are problematic, because wild boars can cause crop damage, harass livestock and transmit disease, and can be dangerous to humans.
High reproductive rate
Brook said wild boars can have six young per litter, and can have three litters per year.
Chad MacPherson is with the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association, and he shares Brook's concern with the increasing boar population.
"Wild boars are a threat to agriculture because if you look at places like Texas, they spend millions and millions of dollars a year to control them and they damage their crops … so it's quite a threat to agriculture," said MacPherson.
Brook hopes to get more concrete numbers on wild boar populations so depopulation measures can be taken.
"Opening up hunting seasons, for example, does not address the problem," said Brook.
He said it's important to take out whole groups of wild boar at the same time because of their high reproductive rate.
"If you leave some and wait a year, then you've got as many or more as you had previously. We just don't see any success at all until we actually start to remove those entire groups. Anything else we consider a total failure in our program," said Brook.
"They will eat anything and live in almost any habitat in Saskatchewan, so we should expect some really significant issues if we can't turn this around."