The Invasive Canadian 'Super Pig' Is Coming to the U.S.—and It Could Cause Major Ecological Damage
An invasive (and elusive) invasive Canadian "super pig" may soon make its way across the U.S. border. Here's how that could impact the environment.
Wildlife is precious. From an environmental perspective, the roles that animals, along with plants and insects, play in our planet's collective ecosystem is so deeply interconnected it can be difficult to fathom.
So, when certain species go rogue, they can populate places that aren't meant to support them, damaging flora and fauna in the process. Say hello to the Canadian "super pigs," an invasive species that may soon be crossing the United States border.
What Are Canadian Super Pigs?
Canadian "super pigs" are a cross-breed between domestic pigs and feral boars. The "super" designation comes from the animal's adaptations, which combine to make it incredibly intelligent, hardy, and difficult to track.
According to reporting by The Guardian, the pigs were created by farmers in the 1980s, and have since escaped and grown in strength (and know-how). The pigs are giant (one was found to weigh 661 pounds) and leverage said size to maintain a high body temperature that allows them to survive harsh winter conditions by tunneling deep into the snow.
Plus, like all wild hogs, they breed like crazy.
What Sort of Damage Can Super Pigs Cause?
According to Ryan Brook, leader of the University of Saskatchewan’s Canadian wild pig research project, "wild pigs are easily the worst invasive large mammal on the planet." Brook told The Guardian that's because aside from being "incredibly intelligent," they're also highly difficult to find and catch.
"When there’s any pressure on them, especially if people start hunting them, they become almost completely nocturnal," he told the outlet. "They become very elusive—hiding in heavy forest cover, and they disappear into wetlands and they can be very hard to locate."
That's not great news for the U.S. The country already has a sizable feral pig problem (6 million and counting, quickly), with the existing mammals contributing to the spread (and creation) of disease, killing off vital species, and causing up to $2.5 billion in damages annually. The addition of a super pig would compound these problems.
Though these giant pigs were originally created for human consumption, they are predators unto themselves, the omnivores hunting and eating nesting animals, fawns, and more, their invasive nature shifting food chains and potentially harming natural biodiversity.
Additionally, the pigs can contaminate water supplies and ruin root systems.
What Can We Do?
Though it may sound alarmist, spreading the word about Canadian super pigs (and feral hogs in general) is key, as more awareness around the threat posed by this invasive species can help to mitigate it—saving countless ecosystems from potential injury or eradication.
In the meantime, hone your identification skills, and report any sightings right away.
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