Skip to main content

Eradication of Manitoba's wild pigs 'just not realistic' expert warns, but new funding will help

Share

A Canadian expert warns eradicating an ever-increasing population of wild pigs in Manitoba likely won't be possible, but new money from the provincial and federal governments will help in the fight to get the invasive species under control.

Ecological train wrecks – that's how Ryan Brook describes Manitoba's exploding population of wild pigs.

"They are, to be clear, the worst invasive large mammal on the planet as far as we're concerned here on the prairies," Brook, a University of Saskatchewan professor and expert on wild pigs, told CTV News.

He's been studying wild pig populations for the past 15 years. He said it’s a growing problem across Canada's prairie provinces – particularly in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, though Brook said it’s hard to determine exactly how many there are.

He said wild pigs pose a significant threat to agriculture – as they can contaminate water sources with E.coli, they can carry up to 89 diseases that can be spread to farm livestock, and wreak havoc on native ecosystems.

That's why the Province of Manitoba and the federal government have announced $2.6 million over four years for Manitoba's Squeal on Pigs campaign, run by Manitoba Pork.

$2.6M from feds, province to help in fight against wild pigs

The funding agreement, which lasts until 2028, provides money to increase public awareness and study the problem further.

"I think we have a situation that we need to apprehend," Manitoba's Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn told CTV News. "We need to do a further study on how much the wild boar scenario's population continues to grow."

Along with studying, Manitoba Pork tells CTV News, the money will be used to increase surveillance capacity, expand the capacity to capture and remove pigs, and support the national work to eradicate wild pigs.

Eradication 'just not realistic' expert warns

While the funding is welcome news for Brook, he said it comes about 10 years too late. While it will still help, he said the idea of eradicating wild pigs completely is 'unlikely' in his lifetime.

"We have to make our peace with the fact that eradication in Manitoba is not happening. We're past that point now, where it's just not realistic," he said.

As for why – he said the wild pigs reproduce alarmingly fast.

"During the time we've been talking, there's been at least one litter of pigs born in Saskatchewan, and probably another one in Manitoba," he said. "This high reproductive rate makes it very, very challenging to get rid of them."

Where did Manitoba's wild pigs come from?

Brook said Manitoba has no native wild pigs.

The problem started back in the 1980s, when producers brought wild boar to Canada from Europe to be raised as meat. 

"Then in 2001, the market essentially peaked for wild boar sales and then collapsed pretty hard after that, and not too far after that you could barely give these things away," Brook said.

This led to pigs escaping or being let go by producers – sometimes more than 100 at a time.

He said Manitoba's flood of the century also made the problem worse.

"In the flood of the century, as you may remember not that long ago in Manitoba, a lot of pigs just floated out. Pigs are incredibly good swimmers," he said. "The pigs literally just swam over the top of their fence and away they went."

What to do if you spot a wild pig?

Brooks said he does believe the new funding will help bring down the wild pig population. But he said it will require several different tactics: ground trapping, helicopter capture, and tagging pigs with GPS.

Hunting the pigs can actually end up making the problem worse, according to the provincial government. It causes the populations to disperse over a wider area, changing their movement patterns and making it harder to control them.

Anyone who sees a wild pig is asked to report it online or call 1-833-776-8744. More information can be found on the Squeal on Pigs website.

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

Group tied to Islamic State plotted fatal Ontario restaurant shooting: Crown

A gunman who is accused of killing a young Ontario man and shooting four of his family members at their small Mississauga restaurant in 2021 was allegedly part of a trio who had pledged allegiance to the listed terrorist group Islamic State, a Crown attorney said in an opening statement in the Brampton murder trial this week.

Stay Connected