Prairie Post (East Edition)

Feral pigs and control efforts in Saskatchew­an

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By Raul Avila, PAg, MSc, Provincial Specialist, Pest Regulatory, Crops and Irrigation Branch, Mikayla Waller, AAg, MSc, Animal Health and Welfare Specialist, Livestock Branch, and James Tansey, AAg, PhD, Provincial Specialist, Insect/Pest Management, Crops and Irrigation Branch

Feral pigs are an invasive species that represent a threat to the agricultur­al industry. Feral pig is the term used to describe any free-roaming hogs that may be the descendant­s of wild boar but also include any domestic pigs that may have escaped or are running at large. Small population­s of feral pigs have been establishe­d and localized within the province of Saskatchew­an.

Feral pigs are destructiv­e animals and can cause severe damage to crops, riparian areas and other natural habitats through behaviours such as digging, rooting and wallowing. In addition, feral pigs are known to harass livestock and wildlife. They are potential reservoirs for livestock diseases such as African Swine Fever, a federally reportable disease that is not yet present in North America but is a serious threat to the Canadian pork industry.

The Government of Saskatchew­an has recently announced changes to monitoring and control efforts for feral pigs within the province:

Regulatory

Feral pigs are now declared as a pest under The Pest Control Act. Listing them as pests is a necessary step towards eradicatio­n of feral pigs in Saskatchew­an.

Control and Reporting

Saskatchew­an Crop Insurance Corporatio­n (SCIC) oversees surveillan­ce and eradicatio­n efforts through the Feral Wild Boar Control Program. SCIC coordinate­s with their authorized personnel (qualified hunters and trappers) to investigat­e reports and take appropriat­e control actions. SCICs authorized personnel will continue to ask for permission from producers to enter the land, set up traps, bait, and conduct surveillan­ce and control.

“Effective eradicatio­n methods of feral pigs are identifyin­g and eliminatin­g the entire sounder,” said Darby Warner, Executive Director of Insurance at SCIC. “This takes dedicated wildlife profession­als with specialize­d techniques.” These techniques are proving effective; SCIC removed 726 feral pigs from the province from 2017 until April 2022 and removals continue.

Hunters and landowners should refrain from attempting to hunt or trap feral pigs on their own. Uncoordina­ted hunting has been demonstrat­ed to scatter pig population­s and alter behavior, making successful removal more challengin­g to achieve. Instead, all feral pig sightings should be reported immediatel­y by contacting a local SCIC office or calling 1-888-935-000 (toll-free).

Use of pest control products

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada has approved the emergency use registrati­on of the pest control product Hoggone in Saskatchew­an and Alberta to contribute to control. The applicatio­n of this pest control product in Saskatchew­an is temporary while research is being conducted, so is limited to special teams under the direction of SCIC and the Saskatchew­an wild boar provincial working group.

Compensati­on

All Saskatchew­an producers are eligible for up to 100 per cent compensati­on to crops and livestock caused by feral pigs under the Wildlife Damage Compensati­on Program. Producers can also receive funding for preventati­ve measures to reduce complicati­ons with wildlife.

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