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:
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 co-ordinates 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 behaviour, 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.
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.