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Province takes aim at feral pigs

Feral pigs can be found in the Kootenays – and now hunters can legally harvest the invasive animals.

The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations announced the move on Thursday, March 20.

The new regulatory amendment designates feral pigs as "Schedule C" wildlife, making it legal for someone with a valid hunting license to harvest them.

Escaped swine have been reported in the Kootenays, as well as other parts of B.C. including the Lower Mainland, Kamloops, the Okanagan and the Peace regions.

"While there are not many feral pigs in British Columbia, this is a proactive measure since once established feral pigs are extremely hard to eradicate," reads the government press release.

Feral pigs are described as invasive animals that have escaped farm environments and established themselves in the wild.

"Feral pigs can cause significant damage to local ecosystems by competing with local wildlife for forage, damaging crops, uprooting native vegetation and eating the eggs of ground nesting birds," the statement says. "They can also be the source of infectious diseases and parasites which can be harmful to wildlife, livestock and human health."

But only licensed hunters should take aim, the release continues.

"Feral pigs can be aggressive, and may pose a threat to the public or a hunter if they are wounded. Accordingly, the regulation requires anyone harvesting a feral pig to possess a valid hunting licence, to ensure only trained and certified hunters harvest feral pigs."

The Ministry hopes that this move will cut down the population of feral pigs.

"Designating feral pigs as Schedule C under the Wildlife Act's Designation and Exemption Regulation will assist in reducing their numbers."

Also on Thursday, the Ministry announced that European wall lizards and non-native turtles can be trapped and killed in B.C. without obtaining a permit, as these animals are also now considered invasive species.

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