Wild Pigs in Ontario
The OFAH is extremely concerned about wild pigs becoming established in Ontario. They have already caused widespread problems in Canada’s prairie provinces and many American states. If the MNRF does not take immediate action, Ontario could have an extensive wild pig problem with severe financial and environmental consequences. The OFAH is advocating for the eradication of wild pigs in Ontario.
Read our September 2019 letter to the Minister
Read the Minister’s response to our letter
Wild pigs (wild boar, feral domestic pigs, hybrids) are non-native to North America resulting from farm escapes and intentional releases. They are major a problem because:
- They reproduce very quickly (sexually mature at 6 months and can have two litters per year with 4-10 piglets each time)
- They can destroy native ecosystems (damage plant communities and invite invasive species, compete with native wildlife for food and habitat, decrease biodiversity)
- They are expensive to control (in the US, they have cost an estimated 1 billion annually to the agricultural industry through crop damage, livestock predation and damage to equipment)
- They can spread disease (brucellosis, trichinosis, hepatitis, African Swine Fever)
Unfortunately, hunting is not the solution to this problem and will in fact make things much worse. Research and management experience from provinces and states that have been dealing with wild pigs for years has shown that hunters removing individual pigs has minimal effect on the population and instead breaks up groups of pigs (called sounders), scatters them across the landscape and teaches them to avoid hunters. This makes control efforts much more difficult and pigs quickly breed to replace any losses. Worse still, unscrupulous hunters in some states have purposely spread pigs in order to take advantage of open seasons in their areas.
The MNRF Wild Pig website ( https://www.ontario.ca/page/reporting-wild-pigs-ontario) states “Wild boar may be considered ‘wild by nature’. If MNRF cannot identify who owns the animal, it may be hunted under the authority of an Ontario Small Game Hunting Licence.” Escaped farm animals are considered private property and due to the difficulty in identifying a “wild boar” vs. an escape domestic pig, the OFAH recommends considerable caution for hunters considering shooting any free-ranging pig on sight because of the potential legal risk. Instead, sightings should be reported so they can be addressed by the MNRF.
What has been shown to work in eradicating wild pigs is identifying and eliminating the entire sounder. This takes dedicated wildlife professionals with specialized techniques such as trapping. This is what the OFAH is advocating for and the MNRF’s pilot study to figure out how to do this in Ontario is the critical first step.
What the OFAH Wants
- A provincial reporting and monitoring system to deal with wild pigs found on the landscape
- MNRF to respond to all reported sightings to determine appropriate action
- All reported escaped wild pigs removed from the landscape
- Dedicated government staff to train and deal with larger established wild pig populations (trapping, sharpshooting)
- MNRF to be open and transparent about wild pig escapes and sightings in Ontario by reporting annually to the public
- MNRF to explore whether wild pigs should be listed under the Invasive Species Act
What You Can Do
- Report the escape, release or sighting of a wild pig to MNRF through:
- If directed by MNRF, exterminate a wild pig on the landscape under your small game licence (you must abide by any relevant federal, provincial, municipal laws regarding trespass, discharge of firearms bylaws and firearms licencing requirements) While the MNRF may direct hunters to kill individual wild pigs, hunting is not an effective tool for eradicating wild pig populations. It can actually make the problem worse by educating and scattering any surviving pigs, making future control efforts much more challenging.
- Visit the MNRF wild pigs web page for more details