Sightings of free-roaming feral swine in Ontario have risen in recent years despite the animals’ tendency to travel at dawn, dusk and night. Some of these sightings have been made near Ottawa and Kingston. Diane Saxe, Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner, has said that feral hogs are heading north from the United States into eastern Ontario. There have also been reports of wild boars that escaped from Ontario-based farms.
In the early 1900s, wild boars were introduced in many eastern U.S. states for hunting. Some of these boars bred with escaped farmed swine, adding combined genetics to the present day population of feral hogs in the area.
By wallowing in and rooting around in forests and wetlands, these invasive hogs in Ontario can make damaging pigsties of local ecosystems. This behaviour can disturb habitats important to native species, many of which are already stressed by habitat fragmentation.
Feral hogs can also carry diseases, such as E. coli, giardia, rabies, foot-and-mouth disease, salmonella, anthrax and encephalomycarditis, that are harmful to humans, wildlife and livestock. They can also damage farmed crops.
If you have a feral hog sighting, please contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry at 1-800-667-1940 and ask to be connected to the related district office.
Noah Cole is Ontario Nature’s communications technician. He is dedicated to helping to protect Ontario’s wildlife and natural areas.