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Canadian Wild Pigs Are Building "Pigloos" To Survive Through The Winter

There have been plenty of stories about feral pigs causing problems across Canada and the United States. Canada's wild pigs were even called one of the country's most invasive species. Now, they've even found a way to survive the winter: so-called "pigloos."

To stay warm during the winter seasons, these creatures will burrow deep into the snow, creating tunnels with snow on top acting as insulation (much like an actual igloo).

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These "pigloos" also allow the animals to hide very well in the winter, which can make it harder for researchers to track their numbers from the air. 

Within these burrows, wild pigs can breed throughout the entire year. They birth an average of six babies per litter every year, which means populations increase quickly. 

"The growing wild pig population is not an ecological disaster waiting to happen," Ryan Brook, the University of Saskatchewan's lead researcher for the Canadian Wild Pig Project told USask News, "it is already happening."

The wild creatures are also omnivorous, meaning they can and will eat just about anything to survive. On top of that, they eat about three to five percent of their body weight every day.

All that bodyweight plus their thick fur coats mean they are able to adapt to winter easily, with or without their "pigloos," and it's becoming a major issue here and across the border.

Canadian wild pigs have started making their way into the northern United States.

This is a big problem for farmers in Montana and North Dakota because the feral invaders will feed on just about anything and are a danger to local plants and animals. 

Dr. Dale Nolte, manager of the Feral Swine Program at the US Department of Agriculture, estimated that the annual cost of damage done to crops by wild pigs is somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 billion US dollars.

So while the idea of a "pigloo" might sound adorable, the fact is that they are part of a much bigger problem, one that Ryan Brook says is becoming increasingly harder to curb.

"Our mapping of their expanding territory shows just how quickly they are spreading," Brook said, "This is a rapidly emerging crisis."

*Cover photo used for illustrative purposes. 

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