WASHINGTON (TND) — An invasive species of crossbred "super pigs" from Canada could eventually become an issue for the United States and experts are continuously sounding the alarm while monitoring the situation.
Wild pigs have plagued southern states in the U.S. for decades now, according to the Smithsonian Magazine, with the animals destroying crops, killing native species while being a walking petri dish of diseases that can spread to humans.
Those pigs reportedly stick to warmer climates like Florida and Texas but still have managed to cause an estimated $2.1 billion in damages annually, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Now, according to experts, a breed of wild cross-bred "super pigs" threaten northern U.S. states with the same woes.
Those "super pigs" are reportedly a crossbreed of domesticated and wild swine, who are larger, hairier, smarter and boast quick and fruitful reproductive qualities alongside a lack of natural predators.
We have already documented pig occurrences less than ten miles from the U.S. border. Quite honestly, I think there have already been some in Manitoba going into North Dakota for the last five or six years," said University of Saskatchewan’s Canadian Wild Pig Research Project leader Ryan Brook to Field and Stream in January.
There is no physical, biological boundary at the U.S.-Canada border. There is hardly any kind of fencing to speak of," Brook reportedly added at the time. "There’s a real risk of pigs moving south into the U.S."
Brook also told Field and Stream that while Canadian farmers initially thought once they released their domesticated populations into the wild that the "super pigs" would have a difficult time surviving a Canadian winter, that proved to be incorrect. "One of the things they do to survive is tunnel under the snow," Brook reportedly said.
.Those released populations quickly spread to become a national problem in Canada.
In February, Brook told The Guardian that he believes the pig problem in Canada is now too big to completely get rid of anymore.
Probably as late as maybe 2010 to 2012, there was probably a reasonable chance of finding and removing them. But now, they’re so widespread, and so abundant, that certainly as late as 2018 or 19 I stopped saying that eradication was possible. They’re just so established." Brook said. "They’ve definitely moved in, and they’re here to stay."
That's a problem the U.S. could soon face as well, experts reportedly add, with Michael Marlow, assistant program manager for the Department of Agriculture’s national feral swine damage management program, warning that the wild pigs negatively affect native species in the areas they invade.
We see direct competition for our native species for food," Marlow told The Guardian. "Pigs are... accomplished predators. They’ll opportunistically come upon a hidden animal, and the males have long tusks, so they’re very capable of running and grabbing one with their mouth. They’ll kill young fawns, they’re known to be nest predators, so they impact turkeys and potentially quail."
Also in February, Brook told Fox News that, "I was warned by someone in Texas, ‘Stop whatever you are doing and start removing pigs and don’t stop until every single one is gone... I would echo that advice."
Now, in March, Brook spoke with NBC News's Jesse Kirsch about the "super pig" issue. He explained that "we never found a wild pig in Canada, anywhere, in all of our research in 2002. Now, we have thousands of them spread across Canada. Once they are firmly established... they are there for the duration... you will have them for 500 years."
NBC News also spoke with North Dakota Department of Agriculture Deputy State Veterinarian Beth Carlson who says her office receives "occasional" reports of feral swine "and in some cases, it does seem that they have traveled down from Canada," indicating it's believed the animals are indeed making their way into America from the Canadian border.
Carlson added that there are "over 30 bacterial and viral diseases, over 40 parasites, that are shared between pigs and humans and other domestic animals," warning the potential pig invasion also poses health risks.
Ryan Powers, who is in charge of eliminating wild pigs in North and South Dakota according to NBC News, told the news outlet that, so far, his team has been able to prevent the pigs from gaining ground or maintaining a foothold in the Dakotas, but the effort takes considerable care. Sport hunting wild pigs could cause potential issues.
The more pressure that feral swine get placed upon them... they do become nocturnal, we've observed that here in North Dakota," Powers said. "You could even create additional problems by separating the group and having then, these populations, go in multiple directions."
The wild Canadian pigs have a range of about 300,300 square miles according to a 2019 survey. The "super pigs" reportedly expand their territory by almost 34,000 square miles every year.
According to the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the average adult feral swine can weigh up to 250 pounds, with some getting "twice as large" as that average. the pigs can also run up to 30 miles per hour.
Feral swine can breed year-round and can have up to two litters of 4 to 12 piglets per year. Since they become sexually mature at 6 to 8 months of age, feral swine populations have the potential to double in size in four months, which is why population management is so important," the USDA says.
Some have attempted to quell wild pig populations through the use of poison, however some attempts have been unsuccessful. Brook himself suggested to The New York Post that "large traps and tracking Judas pigs (wild pigs with a GPS collar that will lead you to other pigs), ground removal teams, fencing, and education are all key."