Killer bees. Wild (and sex-crazed) turkeys. And now, Eastern Ontario’s latest danger: wild boars.
Should you cross paths with one of the fierce feral hogs that have been sighted east of Ottawa and are thought to have escaped from a game farm, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry recommends that you shoot to kill.
If, that is, you’re a farmer or hunter. Fall under some other category, and you probably shouldn’t be strapping on six-shooters and riding off in pursuit like cowgals Kristal and Lea of Wild Women Hoggers, a television reality (ish) series.
Those tusk-brandishing (male), nest-protecting (female), 90-kilograms-of-gristle-and-muscle-weighing (male AND female) boars are nothing for the non-outdoors type to mess with. Better, says the ministry, to call the pros to deal with an animal it says can damage crops, transmit diseases to domestic swine and “be a threat to human safety.”
Africanized “killer” bees never made it past the U.S. sunbelt and wild turkeys — reintroduced to Ontario in the 1980s — have been a boon to hunters and no more than a nuisance to everyone else (and especially to the pedestrian who chronicled on video her encounter with some mating-minded gobblers in Barrhaven).
But wild boars? They’re a problem. Never native to North America, the big-headed, short-legged swine were brought in from Europe and Asia for their savoury meat and soon pushed through or dug under their game-ranch fences. Now millions are on the loose in Texas and other southern states as well as Canada’s Prairies. Manitoba, waging a “boar war,” permits open hunting throughout the year.
Eastern Ontario had a scare in 2008 when 16 boars broke out of a farm near Embrun — spurring a $1,000 fine for the farmer for failing to notify game officials of the escape — but all were killed by cars, predators or hunters.
Since late summer 2013, however, the MNRF has had six reports of boars rooting and running in Alfred-Plantagenet Township or farther east in Voyageur Provincial Park.
How big might the population be?
“We don’t know,” admits biologist Mary Dillon of the ministry’s Kemptville office. “We’ve had no reported escapes, so we can’t say how many are out there.”