The evasiveness of wild boars has made difficult attempts to estimate a total wild boar population in Alberta.SUBMITTED PHOTO, Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development.

Original Published 09:29 Apr 11, 2022

By KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Alberta’s government announced Tuesday the expansion of the Wild Boar Control Program, which includes active surveillance and trapping plans, a compensation payout for farmers who suffer damage by wild boars and two bounty programs.

Wild boars are an invasive species which exist throughout the province. Since January 2021, they have been found in 28 rural municipalities – largely those located in the middle of the the province. Closer to Medicine Hat, there have been sightings in the Acadia Valley/Oyen region.

“Our concern is wild boars can pose risks or damage to other animals, crops and the environment through their wallowing in riparian areas. We’ve also identified market assurance as a risk because they can be a vector for diseases,” Bruce Hamblin, director of the Inspection and Investigation Section of Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development, told the News.

With the expansion of the Wild Boar Control Program, there are now two bounty programs being offered in conjunction with existing trapping efforts. The Whole Sounder Trapping Incentive Program is a two-year program, ending March 31, 2024, open to landowners and trappers. The Wild Boar-at-Large Ear Bounty Program is a one-year pilot program, ending March 31, 2023, open to hunters.

While the programs do, currently, have an expiry date, the potential for an extension is possible as both programs will be evaluated for effectiveness prior to the date.

Hamblin and other officials hope the bounty programs, which compensate $75 for landowners, trappers or hunters per set of ears per sounder, will help with wild boar eradication efforts.

“The importance of the whole sounder removal is that these are intelligent animals,” Hamblin said. “If there were 10 wild boars coming to the trap and we only caught eight of these, those other two now become much smarter and will actually avoid trapping in the future.”

As they are an intelligent invasive species, there are no exact estimates of Alberta’s wild boar-at-large populations.

“I don’t know if we can characterize it as a new problem,” said Hamblin. “I think it’s getting more attention because … of our projects we’ve been doing. (As well), I think one of the big drivers is the African swine fever. (Moreover), it’s an invasive species, if they’re not controlled the population will continue to grow … So, I guess, we’re trying to get ahead of the game as much as possible.”

Anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to visit http://www.alberta.ca/wild-boar-in-alberta.aspx.

To report a wild boar, call 310-FARM or email [email protected].

This item reprinted with permission from Medicine Hat News, Medicine Hat, Alberta