Wild pigs have yet to invade Chatham-Kent, says a top Ontario wildlife biologist, but the threat is real.
According to Dr. Keith Munro wild pigs are on the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s radar as the government hopes to stop a wild porcine population from taking hold in Southwestern Ontario.
Munro, who works for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, says 81 reported sightings of 'wild' pigs to a hotline dedicated to the issue over the past year.
Wild pigs are a serious problem on the Canadian prairies and the southern United States, says Munro, with large numbers of the animals destroying crops, wreaking havoc on the land.
“You can see how it could easily get out of control,” Munro explains.
The pigs, known to be clever, are adept at avoiding detection and capture.
Hunting the pigs, while a challenging past time for hunting enthusiasts, isn’t a good solution to get rid of them.
Munro says the animals become stressed and will alter their behaviour, become more evasive when having litters.
“When you hunt them, you educate them,” Munro explains.
The only true solution is to trap them, he says. That is a painstaking process. Traps have to be baited and remain open to allow the pigs to get used to them.
Officials have to plan to catch them all at once.
Munro says MOEF has brought in experts from New York State, which has been successful in getting rid of their invasive pig population using the trapping method. Only 25 locations are involved in the 81 sightings in the region. Munro says many of the reports are multiple sightings of the same pig and so far, most of these involved domestic swine that has got loose.
Pigs can be tough and aggressive, Munro notes.
“It’s not a good idea to have any kind of pig wandering across the landscape,” he adds.
“All pigs have the potential to go feral,” he says, and “this needs to be reported.”
Senior MOEF spokeswoman Jolanta Kowalski says the number of wild pigs in the region is very small, but there was one reported sighting in Chatham-Kent in Wheatley.
“Sightings that have been received so far include anecdotal observations from the past as well as more recent observations,” Kowalski said in an email, adding the ministry is using a “citizen science” approach to the problem.
For more information or to report a sighting contact:
Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Herald