Ontario officials are devising pig snaring plans after a highly invasive species has been spotted roaming free east of Toronto. According to the City of Pickering, locals have reported sightings of 14 Eurasian wild boars in north Pickering since November 5.
“Wild pigs are not native to Ontario and they are known to cause wide-scale devastation to wildlife and ecosystems and can cause negative impacts to Ontario’s agriculture sector,” said Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) representative Morgan Kerekes in an email.
Eurasian wild boar, native to Eurasia and North Africa, can grow as large as five feet in length and weigh up to 420 pounds, according to the government of Ontario. Throw in razor-sharp tusks and an omnivorous appetite and you have an imposing species.
The wild pigs are not believed to be established in the area—meaning they’re not self-sustaining or breeding—but the MNRF is working with the City of Pickering to investigate the sightings and are prepared to remove the wild pigs when found.
If left to roam, Kerekes said the animals will damage the local ecosystem in the following ways:
- Preying on native plants and wildlife.
- Driving wildlife out of their habitats while competing for food and water.
- Destroying habitats with their rooting and wallowing behaviour.
- Spreading disease to wildlife, livestock, and even humans.
- And damaging private property and agricultural crops
Wild pigs are also known to have high reproductive potential, meaning their population can increase quickly, Kerekes said.
The origin of Pickering’s wild pigs is unconfirmed, but city officials have theorized that the animals either escaped from a nearby farm or were released into the wild. While not native to Canada, Eurasian wild boar were introduced into Ontario farms in the 1980s as an exotic meat option.
As with all wild animals, the pigs can pose a threat to people. While there have been no reports of wild pigs attacking anyone in Ontario, Kerkes said, there have been instances in other jurisdictions where wild pigs have shown aggressive behaviour towards people, livestock, and pets. A 2019 encounter proved fatal for a woman in Texas.
“If you see a wild pig, keep your distance, do not feed them, and keep your pets leashed,” Kerekes said. “If a wild pig poses an immediate threat to personal safety and exhibits threatening or aggressive behaviour, call 911 or your local police.”
Kerekes also stressed the importance of reporting wild pig sightings to the MNRF, particularly among hunters who spend time in the environments where the animals live. If you do spot a wild pig in Ontario, report the sighting by emailing email@example.com, submit it to the iNaturalist Ontario Wild Pig Reporting page, or call 1-833-933-2355.