wild boars in pickering

Wild boars are being spotted roaming around near Toronto and officials are concerned

As if Ontarians haven't been dealing with enough lately amid spiking new case numbers (after nearly two years of rolling lockdowns), wildlife officials are now investigating the sudden appearance of an invasive species in Pickering — a species known for trampling crops, taking food away from other animals and transmitting disease.

Wild pigs have been spotted by several people in and around Pickering, Ontario, in recent weeks, most often roaming in a pack of 14.

According to the City of Pickering, the animals are Eurasian Wild Boars, which are not native to Canada but came here in the 1980s and 1990s to diversify local farming. All wild pigs in Ontario today have either escaped, been released, or are the offspring of rogue boars from farms.

The City of Pickering confirms that there have been 14 wild pigs spotted in the city just east of Toronto since November 5, 2021, and that it is working with Ontario's Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry to address the potential problem.

You see, while adorable to some, these porcine plumpers actually pose a significant threat to native flora and fauna.

"Wild pigs are an invasive species, and they are not native in North America. They compete with native wildlife for food, destroy agricultural crops through rooting and trampling, and can prey on native plant and animal species," reads the Ministry's Annual Report on Invasive Wild Pig Sightings for 2020 and 2021.

"Wild pigs carry and transmit over 80 diseases, viruses, and parasites that may be contracted by native wildlife, livestock, and humans. In many parts of North America, their populations are increasing."

The boars also pose a risk simply for how fast they can reproduce; failing to keep their numbers under control early on could lead to a destructive wild pig boom in Pickering and beyond.

"The Eurasian Wild Boar also has an extremely high reproduction rate, which is why capturing and removing them as soon as possible is important to ensure our natural area and habitat are kept safe," says the City of Pickering.

"The Ministry of Natural Resources is actively investigating these sightings. Wild pigs are not native to Ontario, and can pose numerous risks when introduced to our landscape, including negatively impacting the natural environment, destroying agriculture, and spreading disease to native wildlife and livestock."

Ontario's provincial government defines a "wild pig" as any "any pig outside of a fence," including the Eurasian Wild Boar and domestic pigs that have become feral.

A supervisor for animal services in Pickering told one local outlet that officials do not believe these boars were born in the wild, noting "we don't know where they came from."

One Pickering resident wrote on a Facebook post about the sounder of boars that somebody on the platform's marketplace had recently been selling 30 of these pigs.

"I'm guessing he couldn't sell them and let them go?" he hypothesized.

Whatever happened, wildlife wranglers are on the case. Ministry officials are asking anyone who spots a wild boar to report the sighting immediately by emailing wildpigs@ontario.ca or phoning 1-833-933-2355.

"There is currently no firm evidence to suggest that there are established populations of wild pigs that are breeding and self-sustaining in Ontario, and we must keep it that way," reads the ministry's website. "The least costly and most effective approach for managing wild pigs is to act early."

Lead photo by

Ontario's Invading Species Awareness Program

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