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Only an optimist would take this on

Not everyone would have the nerve to start tackling our tough-to-solve wild boar problem

I aspire to be a relentless optimist. I don’t mean that in a Pollyannaish sort of way. I like energetic optimists who get stuff done, such as Teddy Roosevelt and his national parks. I admire optimists with enough grit to figure out a way to climb over or under or around big obstacles.

It’s very easy to fall into cynicism or apathy. I think we all have moments where we want to throw our hats on the ground and our hands in the air. But if we do that regularly, we’ll never get anything done.

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No one knows this better than Bob Brickley. Brickley and his neighbours have been trying to eradicate wild boar in Moose Mountain Provincial Park for several years. This is not an easy task. After trial and error, they found that co-ordinated hunts were the only way to go.

The hunt team figured out a fixed-wing aircraft was needed to spot the boar nest. But who was going to pay for the plane? The Wawota Wildlife Federation stepped in, fundraising to pay for the plane and pilot. The RMs of Hazelwood and Wawken also kicked in some dough to support eradication efforts.

The Moose Mountain Wild Boar Eradication Committee also had to get the public on their side. At first, they had some pushback from locals who weren’t convinced that the boars needed to be hunted, Brickley told me. But wild boar damage can be devastating to farms, ranches and the environment. They clean everything out, Brickley said. You won’t have a nesting bird below three feet, he added. Once locals understood that, they were on side.

Close to home

I ended up writing about wild boars after hearing about wild boar sightings in the farmland around Livelong this winter. As far as I know, we’ve never had a wild boar problem here before, although they’ve been spotted south of us.

Brickley said ridding typical farmland of the beasts is easier than eradicating them in Moose Mountain. I’ve personally never been to Moose Mountain, but it sounds like rough country.

Unfortunately, there is some rough country around Livelong, too. The pigs were spotted in pastures bordering the east side of Thunderchild Reserve, which has plenty of coulees and trees.

We’re not far from the boreal forest, either. If they were to head north, they’d be difficult to eradicate. I’m a big fan of the boreal forest, and would hate to see pigs ripping it up. Just how far the pigs will roam is a question mark researchers are trying to answer right now.

But after speaking to Michael Hicks, along with a couple of others who didn’t want to go on the record, it sounds like there are only 10 to 12 feral pigs around here. That seems like a manageable number, so I’m hoping they’ll be eradicated shortly.

Despite all their efforts, the Moose Mountain hunters still haven’t won the feral boar battle. Pigs are still escaping their enclosures, restocking Moose Mountain. Can you imagine how frustrating that must be for the hunt team and other local producers?

But Brickley’s not giving up. He’s trying to get the word out that this is a serious problem. He’s grateful to the local RMs and the Wawota Wildlife Federation, as they’ve also raised the issue.

The feral boar problem is a tough problem for many parts of the Prairies. But it’s not unsolvable. Brickley and his fellow hunters have found a way to control the population. Perhaps they could eradicate them completely, if the park wasn’t restocked by new hogs.

Like so many things in life, tackling this problem comes down to attitude as much as anything else. Brickley summed it up perfectly.

“We can do it if we want to — if we have the energy and want to put the resources to it.”

About the author

Field Editor

Lisa Guenther

Lisa Guenther is field editor for Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. You can follow her on Twitter @LtoG.

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