Officials ask public to be on the lookout for feral swine | TSLN.com

Officials ask public to be on the lookout for feral swine

North Dakota animal health and wildlife officials are urging anyone who observes feral swine (wild pigs) or suspects their presence to report the animals immediately.

"We are asking farmers, ranchers, hunters, hikers, campers and others to report any sightings of feral swine," said Dr. Susan Keller, the state veterinarian. "Feral swine threaten domestic pigs and other livestock because they can carry diseases such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, pseudorabies and swine fever. They can also destroy crops and property."

Sightings of feral swine should be reported to the state veterinarian's office at 701-328-2655 or the North Dakota Game and Fish Department (NDG&F) at 701-328-6300.

Keller said wild pigs have occasionally been reported in the state in the past and have recently been reported in neighboring states.

"Aside from their potential to transmit diseases, their rooting and wallowing behaviors lead to soil erosion and degradation of water quality," said Jeb Williams, NDG&F assistant chief of wildlife. "They compete with native wildlife species for food, destroy wildlife habitat, reduce species diversity, and are effective predators of ground nesting birds and small and young mammals."

Keller said it is illegal to possess live feral swine and to hunt or trap the animals. Landowners can destroy wild pigs threatening their property, but must immediately report the animals to the state veterinarian's office. The law also requires landowners to follow instructions regarding the handling, preservation and disposal of the carcasses.

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Found in the southern U.S. for many years, wild pigs are extending their range north and west. They are believed to number more than 5 million in at least 39 states. Wildlife and animal health officials in states with endemic feral swine populations say immediate action is essential to prevent further establishment within a geographical area.

Feral swine are very hardy and adaptable to a wide range of climates and environments. Herds of wild pigs often split into separate groups once their numbers reach a certain threshold. Once a sow reaches breeding age at 7 or 8 months of age, she can be responsible for more than 1,000 piglets in five years.

–N.D. Department of Ag