The Invasive Species Council of B.C. is asking people to stay vigilant and report any feral pig sightings, in order to prevent the voracious animals from becoming too established in the province.
Most reports come from the Chilcotin, Peace and Thompson-Okanagan areas, according to Gail Wallin, executive director of the council.
“Feral pigs are one of those quiet threats we have right now in different parts of the province, and so people need to be on the alert,” said Wallin.
She wasn’t able to estimate how many feral pigs are roaming B.C. right now but said the hope is that the issues facing other provinces — including much of the prairies — can be avoided.
In Saskatchewan, one researcher stated earlier this month that wild pigs would soon outnumber people in that province.
Alberta launched a “squeal on pigs” campaign to address the problem earlier this year, and this month the animals breached a national park in that province for the first time.
“Feral pigs, or wild pigs are really destructive. They’re destructive to our environment. They’re destructive to our fences. They’re destructive to our crops,” said Wallin, adding that they reproduce rapidly — there can be 10 piglets in a litter and a pig can have multiple litters in a year.
She said the animals will revert to their traditional, boar-like characteristics in just a few short generations, with their coats or hair changing colour. Their tusks can grow, and they will also become more aggressive than domestic pigs. They can also carry and spread disease, like feral swine fever.
Wallin said aside from reporting feral pigs, the most important thing people can do is be careful not to release domestic pigs into the wild or allow them to escape.
If one pig in a group is killed, the rest will scatter and establish separate, dispersed groups, making it harder to get the population under control, explained Wallin.