September 24, 2022

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With no signs of slowing down, wild pigs are considered by some to be one of the most destructive invasive species in Canada.


While the Prairies have been hardest hit, other provinces are feeling the effects of the troublesome animal.


One golf course on Vancouver Island learned that recently after a group of pigs began tearing up sections of the fairway earlier this year.


“There were seven or eight of them, so we had the mother and the little sucklings and they keep wandering and making a mess with their waste, and then when the golfers come they sort of beetle off,” said Norm Jackson, head professional at Cowichan Golf Club in Duncan, B.C., near Victoria.


The pigs have been a nuisance for months and are thought to have escaped from a neighbouring property.


Even then, Jackson says this has been an ongoing issue for years.


Staff are continuously repairing damaged areas on the course, he says, which could end up proving costly in the long run.


However, the concern for the club is not only ensuring the clients are safe, but also that the animals are looked after.


“If there’s anybody out there that has any suggestions we would certainly be happy to listen,” Jackson said.


The “huge shopping list” of risks from wild pigs isn’t limited to Canada, says Ryan Brook, an associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan.


“They’re incredibly adaptive. They are, in my opinion, and I think many agree with me, that this is the worst invasive large mammal on the planet,” he told CTV News.


Wild pigs reproduce quickly and can live in a range of environments, Brook says. They are also rooters, meaning they use their nose to dig through the ground to search for food such as insect larvae, leaving a “terrible mess” in their wake.


Because they don’t have sweat glands, Brook says they will wallow in mud to cool off, which can spread parasites and diseases in water.


“As soon as it’s outside of the fence, regardless of what it is specifically or what breed or what type, doesn’t matter to me, that’s a wild pig and that is a risk to the environment,” he said.


“It’s a risk to agriculture, it’s a risk to public health and I can’t underscore enough how serious this issue is.”


Some Canadian provinces have contact information for people to report wild pigs, which Brook says is the preferred option as opposed to a “DIY” approach.


In most cases, people who try to get rid of wild pigs end up simply pushing them somewhere else, creating subgroups that spread in multiple directions or frightening the animals enough so they become nocturnal.


Meanwhile, Manitoba is exploring options to trap wild pigs and Alberta has a bounty program to help eradicate them.


“Time is of the essence, absolutely,” Brook said. “Certainly it can go from a minor nuisance to [an] out of control problem incredibly fast.”


With files from CTV News Vancouver Island

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