State agencies remind public to report wild pig sightings

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Agencies are again reminding people in rural areas to watch for signs of wild pigs and to report them immediately if found.

The Washington Invasive Species Council, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Wildlife Services are reminding property owners, hikers, hunters and other recreationists that the immediate reporting of feral swine allows managers to take quick action to eradicate the animals.

“While reports of feral swine in Washington are rare, isolated populations have been found and response has been swift,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council. “If you come across one, it is important to know that the swine pose a great risk to Washington’s wildlife and agriculture. The Washington Invasive Species Council should be contacted immediately.”

Bush told the Northwest News Network that so far this year, there have been only 11 reports of feral pigs in Washington state. That number is up, but  Bush said that’s because the Invasive Species Council is trying to raise awareness.

Some of what makes wild pigs so dangerous is that they damage shorelines and wetlands and degrade water quality, harming other wildlife and the state’s work in salmon habitat restoration, said Bill Tweit, special assistant with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Feral swine also prey on ground-nesting birds. Their digging and rooting erodes stream banks, impacts tree regeneration and removes vegetation.”

The pigs’ digging and rooting also threaten crops such as potatoes, grapes, pears, apples, cherries, hay, wheat, grain and hops. The value of potentially-affected crops and livestock in the state is $8.5 billion.

“In addition to the damage they can cause to food crops, feral swine can carry more than 30 diseases and parasites, posing a risk to livestock, pets, wildlife and even people. Feral swine can contaminate livestock feed and, in some cases, even prey upon small livestock animals, like goats and newborn cattle,” said Scott Haskell, the state Department of Agriculture’s assistant state veterinarian.

Anyone who observes or suspects the presence of feral swine is asked to immediately call the Squeal on Pigs Hotline, 888-268-9219, or visit www.invasivespecies.wa.gov to submit an online report.