By Joel van der Veen
DAVIDSON — Pigs might not fly, but as Stuart Morrison can attest, they can at least run pretty darn fast.
Morrison spotted a pair of wild boar while driving on a grid road towards Simpson on Dec. 22.
He said he was about 15 miles east and five miles north of Davidson when he saw the two animals.
“I seen these things coming across the field,” he said. “I thought they looked like bears to begin with.”
He stopped his truck, hoping to take some pictures of the critters, but they went hog wild, running off in the opposite direction.
Morrison followed them briefly, snapping three photos.
“They were running pretty fast,” he recalled, adding that they appeared to be headed toward an open grain bag.
He said he’d never spotted a wild boar before, though he’d heard reports about them.
He has spoken to several hunters since then, who told him that there is a small wild boar population in a ravine in that area.
Some have spotted the animals’ tracks while others have reported hearing them.
Morrison said lots of people have reached out to him since the sighting, asking for the photos or the location.
“They created a lot more interest than I thought they would,” he said. “It is something you don’t see everyday.”
Wild boar, native to Europe and Asia, were introduced to Saskatchewan through a agriculture diversification initiative in the 1990s, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
An unknown number of these animals escaped and survived, adapting to Prairie conditions and eventually establishing themselves in the wild.
“What happened is a lot of animals escaped, and many producers went out of business and just cut their fence and let them go,” Ryan Brook, an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan, told CBC last year. “They’ve really taken off in the wild.”
The wild boar has few natural predators, and it is capable of rapid population growth.
They are also capable of rapid crop and property destruction, and they are known to harass livestock, threaten people and interfere with native plant and animal life.
Boar also have the potential to transmit disease to domestic hogs.
As of last year, more than 60 rural municipalities across Saskatchewan have reported the presence of wild boar populations.
In June 2016 the provincial government relaxed regulations around hunting “feral or free-ranging” wild boar.
Hunters do not require a license to hunt wild boar, but are still expected to adhere to reasonable safety expectations, such as seeking permission to hunt on private land, and not hunting on roads or road allowances.
Ray Orb, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, said at the time his organization was pleased with the new measures.
“We need to make sure their population is kept under control and are hopeful these regulatory changes will achieve that,” he was quoted in a news release.
A program operated by the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) offers assistance to both landowners and rural municipalities dealing with wild boar.
The Feral Wild Boar Control Program — previously operated by SARM — is administered in co-operation with teams of hunters and trappers.
According to SCIC’s website, compensation is also available for crop or livestock damage caused by wild boar.
Michelle Bublish, who works in the municipal office serving the RMs of Arm River and Willner, said she has not heard any reports of wild boar sightings in either municipality.