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Feral Wild Boar Threaten Prairie Agriculture

8 August 2013, at 1:16am

CANADA - Research conducted by the University of Saskatchewan shows expanding wild boar populations pose a growing threat to prairie agriculture, writes Bruce Cochrane.

As part of efforts to diversify agriculture wild boar were introduced to the Canadian prairies in the 1980s and 1990s, some escaped while others were purposely released and their populations started to expand and disperse.

A survey conducted by the University of Saskatchewan shows feral wild boar have been observed in 110 of the 296 rural municipalities in Saskatchewan over the last three years.

Dr Ryan Brook, an assistant professor with the Indigenous Land Management Institute and the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Saskatchewan reports feral wild boar have become a tremendous problem in the US.

Dr Ryan Brook- University of Saskatchewan:

One of the analogies I've heard people says is they're like a rat but much larger.
I think if you imagine a 350 pound rat, that's sort of a reasonably good analogy there because these animals reproduce very rapidly.

They can have two litters per year on average of about six per litter, so 12 young per year.
That's completely different when we think about other species.

For example we have another study on moose in Saskatchewan right now and on average each of the adult female moose that we monitor has .85 calves on average, so less than one.

Where as with boar it's more like 10 to 12 young per female so that reproductive rate is completely different than any other species.

They will eat anything, they can live in any kind of habitat, they're very elusive, they avoid people and so all of those characteristics combined with their extreme intelligence makes them very very hardy and very very good as an invasive species.

Dr Brook says wild boar generally are not aggressive to people but they threaten native ecosystems and agricultural production and they're known to host potentially important diseases that can affect everything from domestic pigs to other livestock species to people.

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