Monitoring Wild Pigs for Diseases of Concern
When there are reports of wild pigs loose in Ontario, there is often a lot of news coverage, especially when the group size is large. Any time there are confirmed sightings, the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources, and Forestry (NDMNRF) gathers information and attempts to trap and euthanize the pigs as quickly as possible to prevent them from becoming established in the province. When the NDMNRF is successful, the question on everyone’s mind is what happens with these pigs?
This is where we at the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) come into the story. We work with the NDMNRF to bring the pig carcasses in for a complete necropsy (autopsy on an animal) to help rule out underlying diseases being carried by these pigs. We examine the internal organs at the time of necropsy and also take samples to examine these tissues microscopically. If there is any evidence of internal disease then we submit tissue for additional testing to rule out underlying bacterial, viral, parasitic, and other diseases. Additionally, CWHC has started collecting samples for a cross-Canada tissue bank that could be utilized in the future to test for other pathogens that may not be causing disease at the time of the pig’s death. This future testing is extremely important as it will allow us to determine what pathogens were circulating in these populations in the past. Many of the pathogens we hope to test for could have significant impacts on either human (e.g., swine influenza virus) or domestic animal health (e.g., African swine fever).
Wild pigs are extremely destructive and disruptive to the ecosystem and all individuals from the sounder (group of pigs) need to be eliminated to prevent them from establishing in Ontario. Recreational hunting of wild pigs is discouraged as the pigs often respond by dispersal and increased nocturnal activity, making capture and elimination of the entire group extremely challenging. If you spot a wild pig, reports can be made to email@example.com, 1-833-933-2355, or the iNaturalist app (https://www.inaturalist.org/). Additional information can be found at http://www.cwhc-rcsf.ca/invasive_pigs.php and https://www.ontario.ca/page/invasive-wild-pigs-ontario.
Submitted by: Brian Stevens, CWHC ON/NU