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Minnesota braces for feral pig threat from Canada: "They leave a mess"

Feral pigs migrating from Canada into Minnesota
Feral pigs migrating from Canada into Minnesota 02:10

MINNEAPOLIS — They are being called the worst, most invasive large mammal on the planet and they are a threat to Minnesota.

WCCO's John Lauritsen talked with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and a Canadian professor about the threat feral pigs pose to our state.

"Looking to control these as one of the most aggressive, invasive species we have on the landscape can be extremely challenging," said Kelly Straka.

Straka is a wildlife section manager with the Minnesota DNR. But lately she's been working in Missouri and Michigan, two states that have seen destructive feral pig invasions.

"From a natural resources standpoint, they can absolutely decimate our wetlands, our forests, they can dig up the soil and be extremely damaging to the natural environment," said Straka.

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Feral hogs  Bloomberg/Getty Images

The pigs, also known as razorbacks, have large tusks and they've been known to eat frogs, salamanders, birds and even small deer. Experts say they are smart, elusive, and dangerous, and they can live anywhere.

A picture taken in Canada in 2019 shows a pig foraging in temperatures 20 degrees below zero.

"They rip up the ground. They dig their nose in the ground, called rooting, and they leave a mess. It looks like a bomb went off," said Brook.

Brook is an animal and poultry science professor at the University of Saskatchewan. He said the pigs were introduced to Canada in the 80s as a way to boost the farm economy. But the market crashed in the early 2000s and many of the animals were let go. Instead of dying off, they reproduced rapidly and began to expand.

"The largest one we handled was a female who was 648 pounds," said Brook. "They have six young on average, multiple litters per year and they just keep reproducing like rats."

They are moving closer to Minnesota, Brooks said, and traditional hunting methods haven't worked in Canada because the pigs scatter when shot at.

"I hope, if anything, Minnesota sees us as a cautionary tale of what to avoid," said Brook.

Straka said the DNR is watching closely. Minnesota is the No. 2 pork producer in the country and the razorbacks carry disease.

"Right now we are on the lookout. We are in prevention mode," said Straka. "We do ask people to report if they see a loose pig on the landscape, report it to local law enforcement."

Straka said the DNR will be submitting a status report regarding feral pigs during this upcoming legislative session that identifies any needed policy changes to address the animals.  

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