Wild boars (Sus scrofa) are an amazing adaptable Pleistocene survivor. Their fierce disposition and large litter sizes enabled them to survive predation from wolves, lions, and humans during the Pleistocene, and even today modern human hunters, sometimes armed with machine guns, have trouble putting a dent in their populations. They eat just about anything, and they can live in most climates. Wild boar remains, dating to the Pleistocene, have been found in at least 109 fossil sites located in Israel, Morocco, Libya, Greece, Monaco, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, Slovakia, the Czeck Republic, Russia, China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Some populations of wild boar were domesticated 5,000 years ago, and their descendants are modern day pigs–source of the pork chops, ribs, and bacon stocked by supermarkets. European settlers brought pigs to the Americas 500 years ago and let them forage in the woods where many escaped and went wild. 100 years ago, hunters introduced wild boars to the Appalachians, and they promptly interbred with existing wild pig populations, creating a kind of super hog that game managers have difficulty controlling. Pure bred wild boars wouldn’t be unmanageable, but domesticated pigs have been bred to produce exceptionally large litters, and the combination of tough wild boar with pigs that produce super-sized litters has overwhelmed many areas.

Wild boars have been abundant for over a million years.

Hunters recently introduced wild boars to Canada, resulting in the same situation found in parts of the U.S. and South America. Their ability to adapt to frigid Canadian climates surprised researchers. During winter these intelligent animals build houses constructed of cattail reeds near marshes. Snow and ice cover the houses, giving them the appearance of an igloo, and accordingly they are called pigloos. The pigs burrow into their pigloos, and the reeds covered in snow insulate the pigs and help keep their body heat inside the structures. Canadians need to increase the wolf population, so they can huff and puff and blow the pig houses down. Unfortunately, this would face too much opposition from hunters and ranchers.

Wild boars are spreading throughout Canada. They can live in colder climates because they build nests out of cattail plants known as pigloos. The well insulated nests are kept warm by the beast’s own body heat.

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