Thursday November 20, 2014

Situation another human error in judgement


I was reading recently about the concerns from a University of Saskatchewan researcher regarding the risk wild boar pose in Saskatchewan.

We have already seen an impact of the introduced species in Manitoba.

But, Ryan Brook painted a much bleaker picture to come in a recent Western Producer story.

Brook sees the potential of wild boar numbers to explode based on their ability to produce sizeable litters up to twice a year.

The ability to reproduce, coupled with an abundant food supply across the grain growing region of the Prairies, and limited, if any natural predators, is certainly a recipe for potential problems.

Now it would be easy to point the fingers of blame in this scenario.

There are the farmers, some of who simply left gates open to rid themselves of a livestock enterprise which failed to live up to its proposed potential.

In other cases poor fences or the natural ability of pigs to escape enclosures led to their introduction to the wilds here.

Then there are the officials who originally determined wild boar could be raised as livestock without recognizing the thread they posed.

But let’s be realistic here. It has been the lot of humankind to do a poor job of managing wildlife.

We have managed to shoot to extinction the passenger pigeons in spite of historic references to massive flocks of tens of thousands at one time.

We drove the bison from the wild because we coveted its rangeland for cattle.

We nearly saw the black-footed ferret follow the passenger pigeon to the pages of history books. It was only by sheer luck a small wild population survived and while breeding programs have grown numbers, and facilitated a reintroduction to Southern Saskatchewan, the species is by no means guaranteed a long term future.

While I myself am a happy carp fisherman, many on the Prairies curse the rough fish which of course is an introduced one to our waters, as are all trout stocks in the province where no true trout species is a natural resident.

And the list goes on.

The burrowing owl is threatened by the impacts of man.

The wolf is basically gone from the grainlands of the Prairies, hunted out of the picture because they were once seen as a threat to livestock production.

Today, if the wolf remained, they might be a natural predator to wild boar numbers.

So while we should be concerned about wild pigs, the crop damage they can cause, and the potential to cause much more damage if numbers explode, we also need to realize blame lies with humankind’s arrogance. We seem to always think we can manage nature better than nature can manage itself.

Whether it’s arrogantly trying to manicure the water flows of the region, or dealing with wildlife, we constantly come up short, and are left scrambling to deal with our mistakes.

Calvin Daniels is Assistant Editor with Yorkton This Week.



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