State officials in Montana are combining resources and asking for the public’s help to keep feral hogs encroaching from Canada at bay with a program called “Squeal on Pigs,” according to an Associated Press report. The campaign was launched last week at a conference hosted by the Montana Invasive Species Council.
Montana residents are encouraged to report feral hog sightings to the state Department of Livestock, with officials stressing that these reports are critical to preventing an invasion of the feral hogs.
The hogs can cause damage to crops and property as well as spreading disease. According to data from the USDA swine damages are estimated at $1.5 billion annually. Dale Nolte, leader of the USDA feral swine damage program tells the AP that that figure is probably closer to $2.5 billion now.
A population boom of feral hogs in Canada is the cause for concern, especially after photographs taken last year showed the pigs within 5 miles of the U.S. border.
The pigs can consume 3% to 5% of their body weight each day, and University of Saskatchewan researcher Ryan Brooks told the AP that the pigs can be difficult to spot from the air because they bury themselves in mud or burrow into the snow.
“Squeal on Pigs” mirrors a campaign that had been conducted in the Pacific Northwest, AP notes. Law in Montana prohibits hunting feral swine and requires people to report sightings of the animals within 24 hours. Officials hope that the campaign will encourage residents to report the sightings.
Wildlife veterinarian Jennifer Ramsey, DVM, who works for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, saw feral swine damage firsthand while going to college in California.
“At that point my (thought) was, this was an overwhelming problem and we’ll never catch up,” she told the AP. “If we could avoid getting to that point, it would be great.”
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