Wild pigs in Turtle Mountains targeted

Bismarck, North Dakota (AP) 2-08

State and federal officials have begun the process of eradicating wild pigs in northern North Dakota’s Turtle Mountains.

Wildlife managers plan to trap the pigs and use sharpshooters to kill them.

“We will rely on reports from landowners. If they spot hogs, we will take action,” said Phil Mastrangelo, state director of the federal Wildlife Services agency.

Officials also will use bait piles and remote cameras.

“We’re still in that mode of trying to determine locations, and we’re trying to get word out for landowners to contact us or (North Dakota) Game and Fish if they see hogs,” Mastrangelo said.

Wildlife Services is spearheading the effort, which also involves Game and Fish, the state Board of Animal Health, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of North Dakota.

The area includes public, private and tribal land. Mastrangelo said he is continuing to talk to Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa officials about working on tribal lands. So far there have been no reports of pigs on the reservation, he said.

Whether they are stray domestic pigs, wild boars or hybrids, feral pigs are not wanted because they can cause problems ranging from disease transmission to the destruction of wildlife habitat.

State Veterinarian Susan Keller said last fall that other states’ veterinarians have told her to eliminate feral swine immediately or risk a long-term problem with an uncontrollable population.

One wild pig population in western North Dakota’s Badlands was targeted last year and is believed to have been wiped out, officials said.