• Brae Buckner

    We all know that feral hogs (Sus scrofa) are not desirable to have on your property, but do you know how damaging these animals actually are? Wild hogs were first introduced into the wild as domestic pigs that either escaped or were no longer needed from farm operations. They quickly established themselves in the wild, and people began to realize how exciting hunting hogs could be. This led to many people relocating wild hogs across the country to release into the wild as a new game species. These animals quickly took over everything they could, breeding at an astounding rate and causing millions of dollars in damage to crops and vegetation across their range.

    Feral hogs are one of the most prolific reproducers in the animal kingdom. One sow can have up to 15 piglets in a litter, and up to 3 litters per year. These animals also now reach sexual maturity between 3 and 6 months of age, which means that by the time one sow is having her third litter, her first litter is already producing more offspring. Do the math guys, that’s hundreds of wild pigs born every year stemming from one sow. These pigs grow up to cause unthinkable damage to vegetation, crops, and native wildlife. Feral hogs are opportunistic feeders, meaning that they will eat anything and everything they come across. They prey on the nests of ground-nesting birds, consuming eggs and even small chicks. They will eat small mammals, reptiles, insects, and some hogs have even been caught on camera killing and eating whitetail fawns. They compete heavily with whitetail deer and turkeys for acorns, muscadines, hickory nuts, and other important sources of nutrition. On top of eating the vegetation, they also destroy habitats by wallowing and rooting up many species of understory vegetation that is important for cover from predators for whitetail fawns, turkey poults, and bobwhite quail. Feral hogs are known carriers of over 45 parasites and transmittable diseases. These diseases and parasites can be transferred among nearby animals as well as humans that come in contact with these creatures. Brucellosis, Trichinosis, rabies, swine flu, salmonella, and e. coli are just a few of the damaging diseases carried by wild hogs.

    wild hogs- what's the pig deal? - 5a3481577944a - Wild Hogs- What’s the Pig Deal?

    Photo courtesy of Washington Invasive Species Council

    In addition to their detrimental effects on native wildlife, feral hogs cause insurmountable damage when it comes to native vegetation and agricultural crops. Their consumption of acorns, nuts, and hard mast is so demanding that trees can not produce enough to meet their needs. This leaves little to no chance of any new trees being able to establish themselves for future growth. They uproot longleaf pine seedlings to consume the carb-rich soft roots, which is especially troubling in certain areas of the southeast, where Longleaf Pine Restoration programs are working hard to reestablish the longleaf pine ecosystem. They trample, wallow, and root up crops, which has been economically devastating to the agricultural industry. In Texas alone, feral hogs cause over $52 million in crop damage per year. Controlling these animals is a necessity once they establish a presence on your property.

    Most states that have established wild pig populations have put in place eradication programs designed to eliminate this invasive species from the wild. Hog control is a year-round, labor intensive project, but incredibly worth it if you can successfully rid your property of this species. Stay tuned later in the week to learn more about what Great Southern Outdoors is doing to control the feral hog population in this area.