Alberta Begins Wild Boar Bounty Program

On April 1, 2022, the Alberta provincial government began offering a $75 bounty for hunting and trapping of wild boar.

By Andrew Joseph

Seen as a threat to other animals and the environment, as well as a potential risk for transmitting ASF amongst the commercial pig population, as of the first week of April 2022 wild boar have been reported in 28 rural Alberta municipalities.

Said Alberta provincial Agriculture Minister Nate Homer: “Wild boar at large are a threat to our animals and environment, as well as a vector for diseases like African Swine Fever.

“We are taking action to get rid of this menace and help those affected by it before it gets worse.”

The $75 bounty - proof by a pair of wild boar ears collected - is currently only in effect within Stettler County, and the Municipal District of Peace.

Government-approved trappers can also take the bounty with the set of ears, but only if they eliminate whole sounders/herds.

Landowners can also take advantage of the bounty, but only if they work in conjunction with the approved trappers.

The wild boar population was initially brought in back in the 1970s with Eurasian/Russian boars to diversify breeding and game livestock operations. Along with these animals, the wild boar population is also made up with some escaped domesticated pigs, and the hybridization of the two.

Wild Boar beside lake
Photo Credit: FilippoBacci/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

The wild boars have no issues with the harsh Alberta winters thanks to a woolly undercoat, and propagate easily enough to have increased in numbers to be classified as a pest.

Along with populations in Alberta, wild boar are also well-established in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with smaller infestations in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia - and are also found in at least 39 US states.

Weighing up to 150 kilograms (~330lbs), they are usually found in forested areas in Canada, emerging to eat cultivated crops, create havoc with livestock, and pollute water sources.

One of the issues with hunting the wild boar is that they are very intelligent and will learn from experience. If wild boar feel it is being hunted aggressively in one area, it has been observed that they will simply up and move to a safer zone, moving back to forage when the coast is deemed clear.

A previous wild boar bounty program in Alberta ran between May 2008 – and 2017, when over 1,000 of the animals were killed for a $50 bounty per ear set. A high of 199 wild boars were confirmed killed in 2009 during the program, but a low of 68 confirmed kills was observed in 2015. The program was shuttered owing to a decline in interest - or the animals becoming too wise to tactics to be hunted effectively.

Impossible to accurately measure, it was suspected that in 2021 there was some 56,000 wild boar in Canada, with about half those numbers occurring in the province of Saskatchewan. One sow can produce three litters a year with up to six piglets.

Per the US Department of Agriculture’s February 2022, there are an estimated 6-million wild boar in America, impacting at least 35 states.

In mid-February of 2022, Texas began offering US$5 a tail as proof for every feral hog killed in Hays and Caldwell counties as part of its bounty program.

The newly initiated hunting program in Alberta is scheduled to run until March 31, 2023, while the trapping program extends a year longer ending on March 31, 2024.