© By Othmar Vohringer
Having lived and traveled for a few years in America and seen firsthand how fast wild and feral pigs multiply and spread - and the devastation they create on habitat and agricultural crops - I can fully understand and appreciate our government’s drastic measure.
Where do these pigs come from? Wild pigs (like pheasant, fallow deer and many other species) are not native to North America; they were introduced by the first European settlers for sport hunting and agricultural purposes. The current “North American wild pig” is predominantly a hybrid of Russian wild boar and domesticated pigs that escaped. This interbreeding has created a particularly hardy animal that is able to survive in almost any condition from the desert to the lower alpine regions.
So far British Columbia is a small corner of North America where feral pigs are still small in numbers compared to other parts where the pig population, despite relentless hunting from ground and with helicopters, has gone totally out of control. The B.C. government views the “war on pigs” as a proactive measure to make sure we do not end up with the same problems that exist elsewhere.
Once established in an area wild pigs are extremely hard to control and keep their populations in check. Under the right conditions a sow can have two litters of piglets in any given year. While nursing one litter she is already impregnated with the next litter. The piglets are independent within six months and ready to reproduce. The average litter size can be as high as eight to ten piglets with the average surviving to adulthood being five to seven.
The good news for hunters is that wild hogs make for some very good and healthy table fare. Wild pork is some of the best meat that I ever had the pleasure to eat, and being wild it is also totally organic and is not dripping with excessive fat like domestic pork. Hunting wild pigs can also be very challenging. While pigs can’t see much beyond the tip of their noses their incredible sense of smell and hearing make them nearly unapproachable. Something else that makes pigs a challenge to hunt is their “bravery”. When cornered, injured, threatened wild pigs have no hesitation to attack their adversary with the ferocity one would attribute to a lion. There have been eye witness accounts that even a bear or cougar would run if he encountered an angry wild boar. It is for this reason that in Florida and some other American jurisdictions it is mandatory to hunt wild pigs from an elevated platform, like a treestand or shooting house.
In my forays throughout the Nicola Valley I have never seen feral pigs or any sign of them and can’t tell with certainty if we have any roaming around or not. Having said that, I will pay more attention to it in the future, it’s been a while since I had barbecued wild pork ribs and I wouldn’t mind having it again.
If you have seen any feral or wild hogs in British Columbia or hunted them we would like to hear your story.