Pet pig on the loose in Port Stanley, reunited with owner

·3 min read

Port Stanley resident Jen Slack was surprised when she spotted a pig wandering the Front Street and Tower Heights area on her drive home, Monday, March 8.

“I got pretty close to it,” while taking photos, said Ms. Slack. “She didn’t seem afraid of me at all.”

The pig ran around the area for several hours, getting into some garbage for a short time before moving on.

Ms. Slack took photographs at about 3 p.m., while another Port Stanley resident, Tony Ficca, spotted the pig several hours later outside of his house. The pig approached his truck before running into the woods.

After snapping some photos, Ms. Slack posted them to an online Port Stanley social media page. While she initially thought it was a pet pig, many group members told her it might be an invasive species of wild boar.

Ms. Slack then reported the sighting to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), who investigated the incident.

“We are very happy to report that our research technicians have confirmed that the pig in question has been reunited with her owner,” said the wild pig team at the MNRF in an email to Ms. Slack.

The Ministry said wild boar, domestic pigs, and pot bellied pigs are all the same species, so all pigs can interbreed and produce hybrids.

“This particular individual was a special breed of mini-pig that has some features in common with wild boar – for example, longer legs, and thicker fur along the head and neck,” said the MNRF.

Jolanta Kowalski, spokesperson for the MNRF, said wild pig researchers have investigated sightings on wild pigs in 27 locations in southern and eastern Ontario since January 2020. Many sightings are escaped domestic pigs or pot bellied pigs.

Wild pigs can pose dangers to landowners, farmers, farm, livestock, as well as hurt the environment and agricultural industry. Invasive pigs can carry and transmit viruses and parasites, and could potentially spread disease between domestic farms.

“They are considered one of the most damaging invasive species and have been called an ‘ecological train wreck,’” said Ms. Kowalski.

As shown in other jurisdictions, once established, wild pigs can harm agriculture, for example, by directly foraging on crops. They can cause damage by rooting, trampling and wallowing in fields, and can cause a mess when they get into stored crops.

In the United States, said Ms. Kowalski, the cost for control and damages due to wild pigs is estimated at $1.5-billion annually. In Ontario, there are no known established populations of wild pigs, and the MNRF has not received many reports of damage at this time. “We would like to keep in this way,” said Ms. Kowalski.

Landowners, or agents acting on their behalf, have a right to protect their property from wildlife damage, including damage caused by wild pigs.

If a landowner decides to shoot a wild pig, that case it is their responsibility to ensure: it is a wild pig; the pig is not someone else’s property; they are following all relevant municipal, provincial, and federal legislation about trespass, licensing, and discharge of firearms.

Any possible wild pig sightings can be reported to wildpigs@ontario.ca.

Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express