County of Stettler Agriculture Services Board (ASB) heard that reports of a wild boar problem in the municipality are likely exaggerated. The report was made at the April 27 regular board meeting.
The board is comprised of county council and chaired by Coun. Les Stulberg.
The board heard a report from Quinton Beaumont, manager of agricultural services, about a press release sent out by the provincial government noting Stettler County had recently signed an agreement for wild boar bounties. As it turns out the agreement has been an annual formality and not much more.
“Wild Boar Bounty agreement is signed, and the province issued a media release reporting that the County of Stettler and M.D. of Peace signed the agreement, administration has received many phone calls and emails looking for wild boar at large,” stated Beaumont in his regular report to the board.
During discussion Beaumont stated Stettler County’s name got released and since then staff have dealt with “a continuous saga” of prospective bounty hunters calling for information on hunting wild boars. It was mentioned at the meeting Stettler County was getting calls from as far away as Vancouver Island and Saskatchewan from those wishing to hunt wild boar here.
Wild boars are classified as a pest in Alberta, similar to animals such as coyotes and gophers.
Coun. James Nibourg, noting the province pays $75 bounty on a wild boar, also asked if the county is paid to administer the program. Beaumont stated no, the program is “$75 in and $75 out.”
Nibourg stated it’s interesting that Stettler County has to pay to administer a provincial program.
When asked if Stettler County has wild boar to begin with, McKay stated people have contacted him wanting to come to the municipality to hunt wild boar but he didn't know where any of the feral animals were located.
Beaumont stated Stettler County does apparently have some wild boar at large, and cited a social media page in the area that showed a local hunter claiming to have killed one.
This hunter informed Stettler County he was going to bring the creature’s ears in, which is the required action for a bounty claim. Beaumont stated if this fellow does bring the ears in, those will be the first wild boar ears Stettler County has ever received.
Beaumont also pointed out that, despite any provincial government bounty programs, prospective hunters must get permission to hunt on private property, and that applies to everything from coyotes to deer.
Coun. McKay noted the people who contacted him felt that Stettler County had a wild boar problem and they wanted to help out. Beaumont responded that he felt the press release and subsequent media attention played a part in that.
Ag Services manager informed the board Stettler County seems to be almost surrounded by avian flu.
“Along with Mountain View County, Warner County, and Cardston County, avian flu has been found in a poultry operation in the County of Paintearth No. 18,” stated Beaumont’s report. “We are working on some key messaging for the County of Stettler landowners to make sure they are informed to keep their poultry flocks protected.”
During discussion Beaumont added that Camrose, Wetaskiwin, Kneehill and Ponoka counties all had confirmed cases of the serious poultry sickness as well.
He told board members the federal government is working with Stettler County to let the municipality know as soon as possible if the sickness shows up here.
Beaumont reported the annual school program may not have record-breaking attendance this year.
“Classroom ag program only had one school sign up this year, as well I will be in Byemoor School talking about trees,” he noted in his report.
Reeve Larry Clarke stated he was surprised only one school registered. Beaumont answered that it’s the same program that’s been offered without change for some years and there have been some efforts to get new curriculum and possibly different grades involved, but he had no further information on that.
He also wondered if the COVID pandemic had an effect on enrolments. He added there hasn’t been a class in about three years.
Stulberg asked if town schools get involved too. Beaumont stated one or two Hutterite schools usually get involved, as well as schools in Botha, Erskine and Big Valley.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review