4 critters that worry rural politicians

Nuisance animals are a perennial topic of debate when Saskatchewan's reeves and rural councillors meet.

This week's Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities conference in Saskatoon is no exception.

Animals that chew crops, flood fields, chase livestock and generally make a pest of themselves are on the agenda Nov. 14 and 15.

Here are four critters that delegates are talking about:

1. Wild Boars

Years ago, some farmers began breeding wild boars for the gourmet food market. A few escaped, and now they are thriving in the wild.

The tusked pigs are destroying crops and wetlands. They're known to eat virtually anything: grain, amphibians, even small deer.

From a few in the southeast corner of the province, the feral pigs have spread and have been spotted as far north as Prince Albert.

Ryan Brook, a researcher at the University of Saskatchewan, was delivering a warning of sorts to the rural leaders, pointing out that boars are not only nuisances, they're disease-ridden and potentially dangerous.

2. Beavers

Canada's national symbol is public enemy No. 1 in some rural areas. Beavers and their dams and lodges cause flooding that can wreck rural roads and flood fields. One group of rural leaders wants the province to change the law so municipalities can go on private land to clear out beaver dams. Another thinks the answer might be to encourage young trappers to catch more beavers.

3. Coyotes

People in the rural municipality of Good Lake want the province to bring back its coyote bounty program. Farmers say coyotes kill livestock and endanger their families.

The province tried a bounty program several years ago, but after paying $20 bounties on more than 70,000 coyotes, it discontinued it.

4. Ravens

Some SARM members say ravens are harming and in some cases killing newborn livestock.

They want the crow-like birds to be recognized as predators under provincial compensation rules.

They want SARM to lobby the federal government to allow municipalities to control their own raven populations.