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Disease concerns highlight risk for pork sector

Wild pigs have become a reservoir for disease in other jurisdictions

Manitoba’s growing wild pig problem could spell trouble for one of its biggest economic engines — the pork sector.

In parts of Europe they’ve become an impossible-to-control vector for African swine fever.

There’s also the risk that the Canadian herd and the much-larger U.S. herd that’s moving north could soon meet and mingle, further increasing their status as a reservoir for disease.

Jenelle Hamblin, manager of swine health programs with the Manitoba Pork Council, said they have partnered with a third party on a pilot control program. The program, launched this spring, uses remote activated pen traps to capture large groups of pigs.

“It’s definitely a labour-intensive process,” she said. “It takes full-time tracking, really, and surveillance of the traps that are set.”

Other problems for farmers include rooting damage that can leave fields looking like they’ve been rototilled, the risk of large and sometimes aggressive animals on the loose, and extensive environmental damage and elevated erosion risk.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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