Idaho, Oregon and Washington have jointly launched a “Squeal on Pigs” campaign to combat the latest invasive species - feral swine - that's turned up in all three states. Originating in Europe and Asia and imported for domestic use, the wild pigs, also known as the Russian boar, can grow to several hundred pounds and cause extensive damage to crops, wildlife and habitat; the three states' invasive species councils want folks to be on the lookout for the swine in the wild and report them if seen.
It's not just their destructive rooting and grubbing. Feral swine, defined as any pig that is not confined within a fenced property, often carry diseases that may be transmitted to livestock or humans; they prey on lambs, calves, fawns, upland birds and other wildlife; and they're remarkably fertile, producing a couple of litters of four to eight piglets a year and traveling long distances to invade new watersheds. Oregon has the most of the three states right now - 3,000 to 5,000 - and the Northwest states don't want to end up like heavily infested Texas, which sees more than $50 million a year in damage from feral swine.
“We don't know who brought 'em in or how they came,” said Amy Ferriter, Idaho's invasive species council coordinator. “That's really why we're trying to get the word out. If people see these things in the wild, they should report them to us.” The “Squeal on Pigs” campaign includes a toll-free hotline number to call: (888) 268-9219. The campaign's full slogan is: “Squeal on Pigs! Protect our Water and Land from Feral Pigs.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.