Feral pigs expand their range in the US and Canada
Despite devastating wildfires, floods, and fierce eradication attempts, feral pigs expand their numbers and range in the United States, in Canada, and even worldwide. Wildlife authorities are still searching for an effective method to reduce the number of feral pigs, limit their growth and expansion, and keep their populations at acceptable levels.
As of this writing, no universally proven method of wild hog control has been found and successfully applied without damage to other wildlife and the environment.
But what does that have to do with recreational hunting of feral pigs?
A lot, if you asked me. More wild pigs, more chances to bag one and, hopefully, changed attitudes towards hunting wild pigs.
Hunting and the control of pig populations
Past experiences have shown that hunting boar alone does not eliminate the uncontrolled growth of boar populations.
Hunting must kill 80 percent of all offspring year after year just to stabilize wild pig numbers at the existing level. Any less and the feral pigs expand their numbers and invade new ranges.
The California Hunting Post was the first to report on the results of a scientific study on the dynamics of boar populations. We promoted the 80 percent kill rate that now is bandied around as a cure-all for populations control of pigs.
Boar hunters benefit because more of them suddenly find wild hogs in or near their favorite hunting spots. Ohio, for example, is one state where more boar bring better big game hunting to hunters. One of them just shot a wild pig in a neighborhood in Vienna, Ohio.
Missouri is another state to put the brakes on how fast and wide feral pigs expand their territories. The majority of wild hogs in Missouri are found in the southeast. Another hot spot for wild pigs is south of Interstate 44. Missouri wild boar hunters harvested about 9,300 feral pigs in 2018. Nevertheless, wildlife agencies and their experts are unsure how much and what influence these kill rates had on the overall population of feral pigs. In 2017, hunters killed 6,500 boar in Missouri.
In the fight against wild hogs, Missouri authorities are betting on trapping as the more effective method of boar control – provided, of course, the traps will get the entire sounder. If only one boar escapes capture, he will teach others which traps to avoid and how not to get into one accidentally. Boar expand almost with “planned” moves. And they are capable to learn from success and failure. And so should hunters who want to become successful boar hunters.
Add to it that female pigs mature early and join the ranks of reproducing adults at a young age (6 months and up) and their ability to adjust reproductive cycles to attrition rates, and you can easily understand why feral pigs numbers are growing all over the world.
Wild pigs in general, not only feral pigs. Just consider the ever-increasing presence of truly wild boar in Hong Kong that made their home within city limits, parks, and campgrounds. Their numbers have increased so rapidly that even a ‘pig friendly’ population like the people of Hong Kong are now considering to cull city pigs.
Feral pigs expand in Canada
Canada is also struggling to limit the numbers of wild hogs. Boar numbers increase at alarming rates across Canada, mainly in the south-central half of Saskatchewan. The porkers have claimed over the last ten years an average of 88,000 square kilometers of new territory per year. They now have solidly established populations in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba. Smaller population centers are in B.C., Ontario, and Quebec.
Canadian wild pigs from Saskatchewan are reportedly poised to invade Montana wildlife experts surmise based on past migration patterns of the Saskatchewan pigs.
Feral pigs expand at an accelerated pace almost everywhere. A humane and responsibly applied method of population control has yet to be developed.
Boar hunters need not worry about running out of feral pigs to hunt. There are plenty to go around and the sows are busy making new pigs replacing the losses to eradication. A humane and responsibly applied method of population control must be found and successfully applied.
Boar hunters need not worry at present about losing wild pig hunting to commercial eradication. There are plenty to go around and the sows are busy making new pigs replacing the losses from eradication.
I am more concerned about some ignorant, foolish politician to prompt the adoption of hunting seasons for the invasive feral pigs or to make a sweet deal with a wild pig eradicator to line their own pockets. Besides that ever-present possibility, “Good hunting, friends.”