Feral Hogs and their Financial and Environmental Impact
An article by Jessica Tegt et al. entitled Plowing Through North America in the Summer issue of The Wildlife Professional (2011; vol 5:2 pages 36-39) detailed a number of facts regarding feral hogs that I thought readers would be interested in hearing.
She explained that feral hogs have now spread to 37 states and at least 4 Canadian provinces. The spread of feral hogs is a significant concern for a variety of reasons. First they are extremely fertile. Females can give birth to large litters (4-12 piglets) upto 4 times per year. Females can reach sexual maturity in 6 months allowing for exponential reproduction. Feral hogs have few natural predators so reproductive reproductive recruitment is high.
Diet of Feral Hogs
Feral hogs also are omnivores so they can eat a wide variety of plant and animal material. Their damage to crops and the environment has been estimated to cost 1.5 billion dollars a year in the United States. Hogs also pose disease threats as they can spread pseudo-rabies, swine brucellosis, and a variety of other diseases that can threaten livestock producers. Hogs can also spread disease to humans including leptospirosis, brucellosis, salmanelleosis, and trichinosis. It is highly recommended to wear protective gloves when handling and/or field dressing feral hogs. Their meat should also be thoroughly cooked to kill any potential dangerous organisms.
Positive Values of Hogs
As damaging to the environment as pigs are, some are able to profit from them. Many hunters are willing to pay to hunt feral hogs. It is estimated that feral hogs are valued (conservatively) at 30 dollars each for hunting and meat. Revenue generated by the feral hog trade reached 14 million dollars in a 6 year reporting period.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel specializes in wildlife damage management and is available to help businesses, individuals, and townships with information and education to help resolve their wildlife damage needs.