The Canadian 'Super Pig' Could Be Coming for Us

The massive pigs are as hardy as they are destructive
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2023 3:23 PM CST
The Canadian 'Super Pig' Could Be Coming for Us
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / JohnCarnemolla)

It sounds like something out of a movie: an "incredibly intelligent, highly elusive" pig that's both massive and impervious to cold temps due to its size and ability to tunnel as many as six feet under the snow. And it's apparently coming for us. The Guardian reports the so-called "super pigs" arose in Canada after farmers intentionally mated domestic pigs with wild boars in the '80s. Some ended up busting out of farms and into the wild. Ryan Brook, head of the University of Saskatchewan’s Canadian wild pig research project, says farmers weren't concerned at the time, expecting the harsh winter temps would kill off any escapees. That's not what happened.

"It turns out that being big is a huge advantage to surviving in the cold," notes Brook (they can weigh up to 660 pounds, versus 250 pound for feral pigs in the US). And then there's their ability to dig out snow caves, and comfy-sounding ones at that. "They’ll use their razor-sharp tusks to cut down cattails and line the bottom of the cave with cattails as a nice warm insulating layer," says Brook. And "when there’s any pressure on them, especially if people start hunting them, they become almost completely nocturnal." At this point, there are so many of them in Canada that Brook says there's zero chance of getting rid of them (though residents can "squeal on them" in Manitoba). And as Field & Stream reported in January, northern US states might need to brace for them.

It's a new kind of pig problem for the US, which has its own feral pig issue—some 6 million of them across 34 states, particularly warm places like the southeast, Texas, and California. Field & Stream warns states like North Dakota, Montana, Michigan, and Minnesota may now be at risk of an invasion from the north. Brook says they've been spotted within 10 miles of the border, and he suspects they've already crossed in. The havoc they can wreak is eye-popping: "Wild hogs feed on anything. They gobble up tons and tons of goslings and ducklings in the spring. They can take down a whitetail deer, even an adult." (More invasive species stories.)

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