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Canada’s feral pig problem worsens

Whenever the wild pig problem facing Woodlands County makes the news, Dawn Fortin receives numerous phone calls, all promising the same thing.

“Every time we get a media event that occurs, we are inundated with calls from expert hunters that want to come and fix our problem,” says Fortin, the agriculture services manager for this municipality in west-central Alberta.

Fortin turns down each offer, citing the county’s involvement in the provincial wild pig eradication program. Despite widespread media attention and experts clearly stating that recreational hunting doesn’t control wild pigs, the calls keep coming.


Wild pigs continue to wreak havoc in Canada. One of the country’s leading researchers on wild pigs has stated that this problem has already spiralled into disaster. Dr. Ryan Brook, associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan, has worked for years to raise awareness about the impending catastrophe of wild pigs spreading across the Canadian Prairies.

“Let’s be clear, wild pigs on the Canadian Prairies are expanding completely out of control,” Brook stated in a University of Saskatchewan article last December.

The landscape in Woodlands County, 170 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, is ideal habitat for wild pigs, Fortin explained at the Alberta Invasive Species Council’s (AISC) conference in March. One wild boar farm was established in the county during the early 1990s, and Fortin notes it wasn’t escapees from this farm alone that led to the local wild pig issue, as there were other farms in neighbouring municipalities.

rd tour one year, until the late 1990s, when the county staff and councillors began receiving complaints about escaped wild boars from nearby landowners. “There were complaints even made directly to our local MLA, the RCMP, and Fish and Wildlife,” she says. Reports included damage to crops, stacked bales, infrastructure and riparian areas, as well as aggressive behaviour, contaminated water sources and human safety concerns.

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