ONTARIO — The keeping of Eurasian wild boar will be outlawed in Ontario starting Jan. 1. But unhappy producers can apply for a temporary exemption until Dec. 31, 2023.
Earlier this year the province proposed a ban on farming the controversial breed — granddaddy of all domestic hogs — suggesting a two-year phase-out.
Now it’s a reality. Officially announced last month by the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, the ban is going ahead under Ontario’s Invasive Species Act, this is the first time that a livestock breed has been banned in Ontario.
Possessing the breed and its hybrids, along with importing, transporting, leasing, trading and buying and selling them, will no longer be permitted by the ban date — unless a producer applies to the ministry, by March 1st, for the end-of-2023 extension. The default deadline is otherwise “crazy, impossible,” says Fred de Martines of Sebringville, Perth Pork Products co-owner.
The impending change sacrifices the handful of Eurasian wild boar (EWB) farmers operating in Ontario, such as de Martines, to broader concerns over escaped animals possibly spreading African Swine Flu and harming the environment. The province is offering EWB producers $200 per animal to eliminate their herds, so long as they commit to getting out of the business by May 1, 2022.
“They’ll give you two hundred bucks, and then you’ve got to shoot them all, or I don’t know,” de Martines says, noting he’s never been contacted by officials on the subject.
The actual average market value of a 150-lb wild board is $650, he points out. “We’ve got a bunch of a market-ready animals, and we sure as heck aren’t going to shoot them all for $200 apiece,” he adds. “It’s crazy.”
In the business for nearly 30 years, de Martines says of his current herd of 200 wild boar: “We’re not willing to kill them off for the government. They can go fly a kite.”
He insists his operation is not contributing to a problem of wild pigs running at large in Ontario. “They’re going to have to come out with the RCMP and guns drawn, and I don’t know, bring the army out, too,” he says, briefly chuckling.
Losing access to the wild boar market won’t be the death knell for de Martines’s business as he says Perth Pork Products is well diversified with different breeds of swine.
But in Vankleek Hill, Trillium Meadows Red Deer and Wild Boar Farm co-owner Hans Lindenmann, a wild boar producer of more than 20 years, was still struggling to come to terms with the news.
Lindenmann says bigger specimens can fetch $1,000 and wild boar meat accounts for about half his revenue. He’s looking to find another livestock breed to fill the gap, though it will be hard to replace the cachet of wild boar meat mixed with deer meat in his specialty sausages. His customers are “really upset,” he says. “They’re asking me, ‘What are you going to do?’”
Lindenmann says he immigrated to Canada in the belief this country was freer than his native Switzerland. “Probably, I should have moved to the Quebec side,” he observes. The nearby neighbouring province still allows the raising of Eurasian wild boar.
Wild boar farmers looking at applying for the $200-per-head from the province are advised to watch the Agricorp website in the coming weeks. The program is limited to producers owning the breed as of Oct. 19, 2021. The money is intended “to eliminate their herd while also transitioning to other forms of production,” the province says in a release that also outlines millions of dollars in funding for biosecurity improvements at conventional hog farms.