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Environment & Science

Feral Swine Remain At Bay In Montana

Invasive feral swine have been called the “rototillers” of nature. Their longs snouts and tusks allow them to rip and root their way across America in search of food. Unfortunately, the path they leave behind impacts ranchers, farmers, land managers, conservationists, and suburbanites alike.

Montana remains free of invasive feral swine but the threat still looms. Montana’s Invasive Species Council heard that update on Dec. 2 on the risk of the swine entering the state.

Assistant State Veterinarian Tahnee Syzmanski said the state’s coordinated Squeal on Pigs campaign received nearly 10 reports of possible feral swine this year.

“Fortunately none of them have borne out to be true incidences of feral swine here in the state of Montana. But we are able to each time refine the process as far as responding to them,” Syzmanski said.

Feral swine have expanded to 39 states and several western Canadian provinces, causing billions of dollars in damage each year to crop fields, wildlife habitat and golf courses. Feral swine can also spread diseases to livestock, people and pets and eat small birds, reptiles -- even fawns.

Montana outlawed hunting feral swine in 2015 to disincentivize people from introducing them into the state. Hunting and trapping have also proven ineffective strategies for population control because the sound of gunshots can cause pigs to disperse further.

Montanans are required to report any feral swine sightings to the state’s Squeal on Pigs campaign at (406) 444-2976. The Montana Department of Livestock then works with Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to follow up.