03/20/2014 04:03 EDT | Updated 05/20/2014 05:59 EDT

Feral pigs now legal to hunt, with licence, in B.C.

Licensed hunters can now take aim at feral pigs in British Columbia, which have been officially designated as invasive, problem wildlife.

The animals, which can be aggressive and weigh up to 350 kilograms, have been included on a provincial list that allows them to be hunted "anywhere and at any time" by anyone possessing a valid hunting licence.

In a written statement, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said feral pigs are an invasive species that go after the eggs of ground-nesting birds, that competed with native wildlife, and that can cause damage to native vegetation and crops.

"They can also be the source of infectious diseases and parasites which can be harmful to wildlife, livestock and human health," the ministry said.

The wild hogs and sows come from communities of escaped farm animals that have established themselves in the B.C. wild, and have been spotted in the Lower Mainland, Kamloops, Okanagan, Peace and Kootenay regions.

The ministry says that by placing them on the "Schedule C" list of exempted animals, it hopes that hunters will help the province in reducing their numbers.

"While there are not many feral pigs in British Columbia, this is a proactive measure since once established feral pigs are extremely hard to eradicate," the statement said.