BABUI: Wild pigs, or babui halom tano, are shown caged in Talo'fo'fo' in this file photo. Post file photo Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

HAGÅTÑA, 13 DECEMBER 2021 (THE GUAM DAILY POST) –In the wee hours of the morning, a wild pig knocks down trash bins in search of food and strews their contents all over the usually well-kept yard in a Mongmong neighbourhood in Guam.

Before the trash collectors make their Wednesday rounds, the bins are already emptied.

But not in the manner the residents expect them to be.

The pig rummaging through the trash was captured in a video shared by Mongmong-Toto-Maite or MTM Mayor Rudy Paco on Friday. There are others showing similar occurrences.

“They’re all over the place now. They’ve also reached the Cars Plus area. We think the breeding has increased, and they come from the swamp area. Remember, MTM is a swampy area,” the mayor said. “We are infested with wild pigs.”

Down south, Santa Rita-Sumai Mayor Dale Alvarez on Friday said wild pigs damaged the grounds of the village softball field just a week ago.

“They are digging the ground deep,” he said.

Feral pigs have also damaged Christmas decorations at multiple homes in his village.

“It’s gotten worse,” the mayor said. “Sometimes all you can do is throw rocks at them.”

These feral pigs or wild boars could attack people and have already been reported to be attacking pet dogs and cats, mayors said.

When attacks or threats occur, residents call their mayors, not the police, Alvarez said.

Mayors also seem to be the first line of defence when residents have pressing problems with stray dogs and cats.

In many parts of the island, feral pigs have been destroying farmers’ crops and residents’ gardens, damaging manicured lawns, trashing peoples’ yards, and scaring children and adults, mayors said.

“If you go down south, the pigs walk the street as if we’re not there. The pigs walk the street as if they are exercising. They’re not scared of humans anymore,” Alvarez said.

It would be nice to have access to corrals similar to what the U.S Department of Agriculture has been using to trap feral swine, mayors said.

The pricey corrals are capable of catching a pack of wild boars at one time.

“Right now, we only have traps that can capture one or two pigs at a time,” Paco said.

Some villages, such as Piti, MTM and Santa Rita-Sumai previously asked USDA to help control the population of wild pigs in their area.

In three months alone in 2019, nearly 200 pigs were trapped by USDA in Piti, according to Piti Mayor Jesse Alig.

Alig, president of the Mayors’ Council of Guam, said villages cannot solely rely on USDA to trap feral pigs because the agency has its other priorities.

“It’s a local problem, a local solution is needed. That starts with partnering with another agency that already has resources to buy at least one trap,” Alig said, referring to the Guam Southern Soil and Water Conservation District.

Alig said the district received funding from the governor’s office at the beginning of the year to address the wild pig problem in the south.

With talks of American Rescue Plan funds  some mayors ask whether a portion of that massive funding can go toward purchasing larger corral traps.

Mayors are awaiting official communication on how much in ARP money can be used to address village concerns, such as the wild pig population.

“That would be nice to have a corral like the one USDA uses,” Alvarez said.

The mayors said these corrals, however, require a big area for storage when not in use, as well as regular maintenance.

About a year and a half ago, USDA was able to remove about 100 wild pigs from his village, Alvarez said.

But the population has increased again, Alvarez said, and it could still take a while before USDA grants their request for help again. Other villages echoed the sentiment.

Alig said a corral similar to those of USDA costs at least US$25,000 or US$30,000. That’s money that the mayors’ council does not have right now, he said.

So partnering with the Guam Southern Soil and Water Conservation District that already has initial funding could be the best way to go currently, Alig said.

At the mayors’ council meeting on Tuesday, Alig shared with other mayors a plan to come up with a pilot programme in partnership with the Conservation District to address the feral pig population.

“I know that for us in Piti, that worked when we were using the traps that USDA has so we’re hoping that on the local side, we will be able to kind of mimic that program and give more opportunities for mayors to utilise those traps in the villages,” Alig said at the meeting.

Wild pigs have also been known as vectors of diseases that may impact humans, such as leptospirosis.

These feral swine likewise affect endangered species, cultural resources and ecosystems. For example, an area rooted by a wild boar allows for invasive plant species regeneration rather than native vegetation…..PACNEWS

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