February 29, 2016 - 9:00 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Their numbers are small but feral pigs remain active throughout B.C.’s Interior and with their continued presence comes continued destruction.
Gail Wallin, the executive director of the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia, says population numbers of the animal are considered low at this point given the amount of calls they receive, but says that could change as the pigs continue to reproduce.
Wallin says the problem with these species is they don't know how big the population is until they study them, or until the population grown big enough to become a concern.
“There’s been reports on them but the provincial government is looking at what they want to do for the risk assessment," she says. "We expect the number is low because of the low numbers of reports we’ve had. But we know when pigs are established in the wild, they have the ability to reproduce quite frequently and so the population could grow."
Pigs became a concern specifically on Vancouver Island, the North Thompson and the Chilcotin-Cariboo areas because of the growing amount of homesteaders who either lost the animals because of faulty fencing or purposefully left them behind when abandoning a ranch, Wallin says.
Pigs can travel alone or in packs and she says once wild, a pig will return to its feral skills which can tear up entire chunks of land in a grubbing spree.
“They’ll dig for food and when you put a pig in the wild and when it’s grubbing for food it makes a major disaster of your ecosystem. There’s pigs out in some sensitive grasslands. They’ll destroy that grassland, they’ll also destroy your hayfield or your crops if they’re around there,” she says. “They also carry diseases which can carry into livestock."
In 2014, the provincial government granted hunters permission to hunt feral pigs if they came across one. Wallin says since that privilege was granted, she’s been inundated with phone calls.
“I’ve been swamped by hunters saying ‘tell me where I can go tomorrow, I got all these guys ready to go.' It’s just absolutely incredible,” Wallin says. “We can’t give you a map; right now because the numbers are quite low and they’re not mapped out. What we’re hoping by having the awareness out there is people will be more alert for them."
Reports of feral pig sightings will be documented by the B.C. Conservation Service and the Invasive Species council. The increased knowledge of pig locations can then help the province produce a risk-assessment for the animal.
To report a pig sighting in your area, contact the Ministry of Environment’s RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277. To call the invasive species council, dial 1-888-933-3722.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016