The Growing Problem of Feral Hogs

Why Hunting Them Just Won't Cut It

Feral Hogs Are Tough Enemies


  • Feral hogs, known as "the most prolific large mammal on the face of the Earth", have been running rampant across Texas and many other states.
  • They were brought to the U.S. by the Spanish conquistador, Hernando de Soto, in 1539 and then they bred with common pigs to become the feral hogs we know today.
  • They are predicted to double in population size every five years, meaning that an annual harvest rate of 66 percent is necessary to keep the species from overly inflating in size.
  • Their carrying capacity can only be affected by humans killing them, or overpopulation in a small area (which would create competition for resources).
  • 2 million-6 million of the hogs are in 39 states, with half of them being in Texas only.
  • They are highly adaptable, and a "well-groomed lawn is already the perfect habitat" for them.
  • Feral sows mature at 6-8 months of age and have around 1.5 litters per year, with 5 or 6 pigs per litter.
  • They are "opportunistic omnivores", which leads to them feeding on both plants and animals as well as scavenging.
  • They are one of the most intelligent animals in the United States, and respond to human attempts at eradicating them (by learning to avoid them, becoming nocturnal, etc.)
  • Only small feral hog babies or elderly hogs are killed by natural predators, but once they grow to around 10-15 pounds they are very hard to predate on.
  • Most feral hogs grow to be about 200 pounds in weight.
  • Predation by mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes is only a minor limiting factor.

The Effects of Letting Them Run Around Free

  • The hogs forage for grubs and food in the ground, and thus tear up farmland and neighbourhood yards. They are also eating any crops, chicken, and sheep they can.
  • They have also been known to cause vehicle collisons and the toppling of small children.
  • They are driving out native animals and plants.
  • The damage is costing farmers $52 million annually in repairing land, buying electrical fences to try and corral them, and in replacing the animals eaten by the hogs.
  • Some experts say that the environmental damages caused by these hogs could increase food prices in the future.
  • Feral hogs don't have sweat glands, so they tend to wallow in water to cool off. Diseases such as hog chlorea, African swine fever, leptospirosis, and brucellosis can then be transmitted from the hog to the water, which can affect human drinking water.

So How Can We Control Them?


GET THE WORD OUT.

  • Seminars and meetings should be held in communities suffering with this problem so we can educate the people and show them how to shoot and trap the hogs.


HUNT THEM- (When it's safe, and not in neighbourhoods)

  • Hogs can be hunted year-round because they are not protected by standard hunting regulations. There is no bag limit, you may use anything to kill them, and Texas law doesn't require you to have a hunting license in certain places, so we encourage you to hunt any hogs you can.
  • They are more sneaky then you would think, however, as they're really good at hiding in the dark because their eyes don't reflect light like deer.
  • Suppressors, or silencers, would be the best way of managing to shoot the hogs. The meat can be eaten, and is known for being delicious and leaner than pen-raised pork.


SHOOT FROM ABOVE

  • Shooting from helicopters would also be an effective way of managing the population.
  • However, shooting only lowers the population by 24%, so traps would be the most effective and long-lasting way in which to control the hogs.


TRAPS FOR THE LONG RUN- (Even better than shooting)

  • To trap them successfully you need a game camera to regulate when hogs come to your trap, and bait.
  • Bait (like shelled corn) is especially good during the winter when food is scarce.
  • The USDA is testing a trap that will only harm feral hogs. The space between the ground and the bar is such a size that larger animals can't get in and flip it over.
  • Inside the trap there would be a toxin that slowly reduces oxygen in the blood, but the bait can only be reached by a hog's snout.
  • We recommend that more testing be done for traps like these, and in the meantime, for the citizens of hog-infested areas to hunt as many as possible.

We Want Control, Not Complete Extinction

Completely eradicating all of the feral hogs from our communities is pretty much impossible. However, if we spread the word, more hunting occurs in safe areas away from neighbourhoods or from the air, and we place more traps for the hogs, it is very much possible to stop the feral hogs from overtaking our land and overpopulating it. It has been a long battle between us humans and the profilic hogs, but if we all work together we can help stop the invasion of pigs at its source. Just like the Asian Carp (an invasive fish in the Mississippi River) was blocked from the Great Lakes, we too will work to stop the feral hogs from spreading and overly reproducing, and hopefully the traps will produce the expected result.

Works Cited

Books:

Elton, Charles S.. The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants. University of Chicago Press ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. Print.


Simberloff, Daniel. Invasive Species: What Everyone Needs to Know.. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.


Journal:

Sanders, D. M., Schuster, A. L., McCardle, P. W., Strey, O. F., Blankenship, T. L. and Teel, P. D. (2013), Ixodid Ticks Associated with Feral Swine in Texas. Journal of Vector Ecology, 38: 361–373. doi: 10.1111/j.1948-7134.2013.12052.x


Websites:

Fremd, Mike. "Hog Wild! Feral Pigs Invade Texas." ABC News. ABC News Network, n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2014. <http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=2650348>.


Morthland, John. "A Plague of Pigs in Texas." Smithsonian Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2014. <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/a-plague-of-pigs-in-texas-73769069/>.

Other Sources

Beach, Robert. "Texas Natural Wildlife: Depredation Problems Involving Feral Hogs." Texas A&M AgriLife Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://agrilife.org/texnatwildlife/feral-hogs/depredation-problems-involving-feral-hogs/>.


Dunn, Brien O'Connor. "Texas A&M AgriLife Research." Texas Natural Wildlife: Wild Boar Management and Marketing – The Fennessey Ranch «. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://agrilife.org/texnatwildlife/feral-hogs/wild-boar-management-and-marketing-the-fennessey-ranch/>.


"Feral Hogs Damage in Royal Shores." Royal Shores. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://www.royalshoreskingwood.com/royalshores/announcement.asp?id=52>.


Higginbotham, Billy. "Coping with Feral Hogs." Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. <http://feralhogs.tamu.edu/frequently-asked-questions-wild-pigs/>.


Kennedy, Bruce. "Feral Pigs Run Hog Wild Across the U.S.." MSN Money. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://money.msn.com/now/post.aspx?post=87bc84db-d583-4640-b958-205196aa58d7>.


Kuruvilla, Carol . "It's Not Hogwash: Growing Population of Ruthless Feral Swine Causes $1.5 billion in Agricultural Damage." New York Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/growing-population-feral-swine-causing-1-5-billion-agricultural-damage-article-1.1391433>.


Lazaro, Auj . "Wild Hogs Invade Kingwood Communities." The Latino Post . N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://www.latinopost.com/articles/707/20130914/wild-hogs-invade-kingwood-communities.htm1>.


Mitchell, Clifford. "Control Population to Limit Wild Hog Damage." Cattle Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://cattletoday.com/archive/2013/March/CT2922.php>.


"Natural Predators of Feral Hogs." Extension. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://www.extension.org/pages/63656/natural-predators-of-feral-hogs#.Uxi7kdKsiSo>.


Olson, Bruce . "Feral Hogs Invade Kingwood Neighbourhoods." The Tribune. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://ourtribune.com/article.php?id=15854>.


Schechter, David. "Getting a Grip on the Feral Hog Invasion in North Texas." WFAA . N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://www.wfaa.com/news/entertainment/pets/feral-hogs-114696499.html>.


"South Texas Wildlife Population Management/ Hunting." Texas Parks and Wildlife. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <https://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/land/habitats/southtx_plain/habitat_management/gun.phtml>.


Taylor, Rick . "The Feral Hog in Texas." Texas Parks and Wildlife pdf. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_bk_w7000_0195.pdf>.


Winingham, Ralph. "Texans Take Aim at Feral Hog Problem with Quiet Shot in the Dark." Houston Chronicle. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. <http://www.chron.com/sports/outdoors/article/Texans-take-aim-a-feral-hog-problem-with-quiet-4334456.php>.