It didn’t take long for 2023 to get weird. Canadian “super pigs” could soon invade the northern United States, if they haven’t already.
Feral hogs in the U.S. are nothing new, but these aren’t the average javelinas. The so-called Canadian “super pig” is a hybrid between a wild boar and a domesticated hog.
In the 1980s, wild boars were brought to Canada to be raised on farms, or hunted in preserves. That was until about 20 years ago, when the market for their meat dropped out. With no one to sell the meat to, some farmers released the hybrid hogs into the wild. Others escaped the high-fence game preserves to find freedom. Today, it’s estimated wild boars roam about 620,000 acres of Canadian prairie.
Dr. Ryan Brook leads the Canadian Wild Pig Research Project. Brook and his team work to track the animals, and monitor the impact on native plant and animal species. Just like in other regions with feral pigs, the super pigs are negatively impacting the environment in devastating ways.
Super pigs were bred to survive Canadian winters, so they are hearty animals, growing to more than 600 pounds. They eat goslings and ducklings by the mouthful. They uproot and destroy crops. They can even bring down full-grown deer.
Despite its popularity, recreational hog hunting seems to be making the problem worse. The pigs are adapting by turning nocturnal, which makes them harder to track and remove.
One way game wardens hunt the beasts is to put GPS tracking collars on subdued hogs. Called “Judas pigs,” the collared hog leads wardens back to their dens, where the animals are “removed from the environment.”
Geo-tracking put one hog less than 10 miles from the U.S. border. Brook told Field and Stream he wouldn’t be surprised if wild pigs have crossed over into North Dakota already. There is no real physical or natural boundary between the U.S. and Canada in that area, so it’s just a matter of time before the hogs head south.