There are no federal (Canada) research, monitoring, funding, programs, or inter-provincial coordination in place to address feral wild boar. This makes it very difficult to effectively address the issue. If we are to manage and/or eradicate wild boar, significant research and monitoring needs to take place.
It is critical that wild boar presence and distribution in Canada is known. Population numbers for each area will allow managers to determine the magnitude of control measures necessary, and allow success or failure of control efforts to be evaluated. Population estimates will also allow the determination of whether individuals remain in an area from a previous population or have recolonized an area from elsewhere.
Also of importance is the determination of clear endpoints for management or eradication (agreement on goals) as well as general knowledge regarding the ecology, behaviour, and population dynamics of wild boar in Canada, where research is lacking. Monitoring and surveillance of disease presence and transmission also emerges as important when weighing the risks of having wild boar in the landscape.
If eradication is to be achieved, there is great need for long-term, widespread, and aggressive control and management strategies. Challenges to these strategies include the nocturnal and elusive nature of wild boar, extremely high reproductive rates, and high mobility and capacity for dispersal.
There are several control options:
Wild boar is an interesting and exciting game animal, and it may appear that the ideal solution is to encourage and support hunting of individual animals. However, these elusive and nocturnal creatures are difficult to find, and if one in a group is shot, the others tend to scatter and move into new areas – dispersing the population and potentially making the situation even worse. This is not to say that it is wrong to shoot wild boar (for hunting legalities and specifics, go here), but it is not an effective management strategy. Research in the United States has shown that uncoordinated hunting methods, which usually involving killing a few adults, has no impact on the population. Adding to that, an increase in hunting pressure can cause wild boar to become even more nocturnal, and elusive, and their adaptive nature allows them to majorly change their feeding and activity patterns, making additional attempts very difficult.
Coordinated hunting efforts, however, have a major role to play in eradicating wild boar. The most successful strategies in Canada consist of flying over areas to find a “cell” of feral wild boars and then sending a team of highly skilled hunters to shoot them with a 100% success rate.
Trapping wild boar has no negative impacts, and has seen some success in other areas. It can be difficult to employ due to the pigs’ intelligence and social nature, and it may fail when preferred natural foods are available.
Poisoning can be an effective method of wiping out groups of animals without causing dispersal effects as with hunting. There is, however, the concern that poison will reach non-target animals. To remedy this, research is being conducted on a variety of baiting apparatuses which are pig specific, taking advantage of wild boar’s unique feeding behaviour and limiting the number of non-target animals that could access the poisoned food. These apparatuses require the animals to lift a heavy lid or other part – an action that is only possible with strong, cooperative animals.
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Hanson, L.B., Mitchell, M.S., Grand, J.B., Jolley, D. B., Sparklin, B.D., and Ditchkoff, S.S. 2009. Effect of experimental manipulation on survival and recruitment of feral pigs. Wildlife Research. 36: 185 – 191.
Tompkins, S. 2011. Poisoning pigs – the final solution? http://blog.chron.com/sportsupdate/2011/02/poisoning-pigs-the-final-solution/
US Department of Agriculture. 2016. Feral swine – methods for managing damage. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/resources/pests-diseases/feral-swine/fs-manage-the-damage