Feral Pig Problems
Sus scrofa - Feral pigs in Texas
Feral hogs all over North America
All over the USA and now on up into Canada, farmers and ranchers of all stripes and types have a brand new nemesis, which isn't the slightest bit new at all, and is, of course, of our own design. Feral pigs, feral hogs, wild boars, razorbacks and any other names available, some surely including some four letter adjectives, are used to describe these beasts. It would be helpful, I reckon, to describe what they actually are.
When we say an animal is feral, what that means is it is an animal that would otherwise be a domestic animal. With what we are now calling feral pigs, this is only mostly true. Why and how can something be 'mostly true?' What we are calling wild hogs or feral pigs are animals stretched out over the North American continent, and those animals are as often as not interbred with truly wild boar. So they are hybrid animals. I hope that explains why the term feral hog or feral pig is 'mostly true.'
Then, there are also the wild boar. Boars which may or may not have been interbred with feral pigs are surely still out and about. Those animals are also going to be lumped in with the feral pigs as feral pigs.
Wild boar or feral pigs in the United Kingdom
Wild pigs all over England
The feral pig or wild hog problem is not a uniquely American problem. Basically, everywhere English is the primary language, there are feral pigs and feral pig problems. In the United Kingdom it is perfectly legal to raise animals what would otherwise be called feral pigs.
It is also perfectly illegal to release any of them into the wild. Releasing your pigs into the wilds of the United Kingdom is also rather unprofitable. There are many established feral pig populations on the British Isles, and some are more dangerous than others as some are more used to the close quarters shared with humanity. There are various and sundry news reports of persons being chased from their campsites from the large and sometimes aggressive beasts; and one such story is where I fetched the image from above.
That is a big pig in the mud in Australia
Feral hogs practically own Australia
In the United States and Canada we don't even truly know what a feral pig overpopulation is. If we truly wanted to know, we could always go visit a land down under. In Australia, there are an estimated twenty three million wild boar or feral hogs or feral pigs, or whatever you wish to name them. Twenty three million wild pigs is just an estimate. There are probably more, as loads of the Australian continent is uninhabited by humans. Should the number 23 million be accurate, then that is roughly one feral pig for every single human in Australia. It is more likely that the pigs outnumber the humans.
Captain James Cook was the fella who brought these pigs to Australia. They certainly aren't native creatures to the place, then again, most of the Australians aren't native to the place either. Anyway, the idea Mr. Cook was using was that were he to release these pigs into the wild in Australia, then the settlers would always have something to hunt down and eat. You know how it goes, you find the familiar pork more attractive than kangaroo meat. Sadly, the feral pigs of Australia are as often as not far to worm infested to be suitable food for humans.
The pigs? Oh they probably worship Captain Cook to this day. They found the place to be hog heaven. There weren't and there aren't any predators there to kill the pigs other than the saltwater crocodiles in the North of the continent, and the dingo who are only ever able to kill a young pig, or a sick or injured or elderly pig.
Feral pig in Ireland
The luck of the Irish includes feral pig problems
In counties Clare and Galway the reintroduced feral hogs have been having the Irish curse their luck. The Irish government has named these porkers enemies of the state, a threat to the people, to business, and to all native species. It is speculated some rogue hunters brought in the pigs.
Somewhere between five thousand to fifteen hundred years ago the Sus scrofa, or wild pigs, of Ireland died out. A reintroduction means the pigs are no longer native species, but invasive ones. Ecosystems change, and not always for the better. Better for the pigs, yes! For the Irish? Nope.
A feral pig in New Zealand
New Zealand is wallowing in the mire of pig population troubles
There's a lot more to New Zealand that Peter Jackson films, and there are more invasive species of critters than just orcs, ents, hobbits, elves and dwarves. There are also the feral pigs, which may as well be orcs should you be a farmer or rancher in lovely, scenic New Zealand. Pig hunting in New Zealand is a necessity, not a sport. Now the wild boar or feral pig or whatnot ever you wish to call them - are a tad different there than they are in some other places. New Zealand had a native species of pig, and the invasive ones are now crossbred with those.
Still a problem, they are, and lets not even start on the Kunekune pig, there's lots of piggy genetics running wild all around the place. These wild pigs kill lambs, by the way; and lambs are much more valuable animals. You especially appreciate the value of lambs when you realize feral pigs have a negative value, which is less value than numero zero.
I suppose there is an upside to the feral pig problem in New Zealand. The upside only applies to licensed hunters who need to provide for themselves and their families. You can get paid for killing the feral pigs of New Zealand, just turn in recognizable snouts, and you get paid a pittance.
Feral hogs in Canada
Big boar are everywhere in Canada
When I first started becoming aware of there even being a wild pig problem, I assumed the problem was local. By 'local' I mean northern and eastern Texas. Yeah, assuming things isn't smart, it is, however, rather natural. Feral pigs are a problem all over the English speaking world, and the rest of the world is hardly immune from these creatures either. They're a high intelligence animal, and you'd think they're highly edible. They would make for fine nutrition, of course, but they're rather prone to carrying untold numbers of parasites and diseases. They must be butchered properly, and cooked thoroughly. Cooking pork rare is never an option.
Canada is vast, and for the most part, underpopulated - if such is possible in an overpopulated world. The feral pigs can seemingly survive anywhere because they are true omnivores, just like humans are, and of course the term omnivore means 'can eat nearly anything.'
At the risk of mixing politics with a page about animals, the Canadians have endorsed 'progressivism' to such an extent it is near impossible to own a firearm. The Canadians are about to the point of accepting this invasive species, and adopting a 'deal with it' strategy. In other words, their farmers and ranchers are on the outright short end of the stick here, and their government has forgotten how important those people are to them. They'll learn.
A very big feral pig
We've literally got legendary feral hogs in the South
When it comes to legendary creatures, Hogzilla is definitely one of note. That feral hogs will literally eat you is true, they are omnivores, That they get more dangerous the larger they grow is an obvious thing that also happens to be true. How big do they get? Well, is a thousand pounds large enough for you? The image above is NOT the pig who was posthumously named 'Hogzilla.' The image above is of another pig, this one killed by an eleven year old boy who was armed with a pistol, and if the weight of the animal was truly the one thousand and fifty one pounds claimed, then that animal was bigger than the famous Hogzilla.
As the feral pig population continues to grow further from control, you can bet there will be specimens found and killed who's weights are listed as larger and larger. How big these omnivorous creatures get is not the issue or the problem insofar as feral pigs go. So what is the problem? The mother pigs can conceive twice a year, and they often do just that - with litters numbering as many as six pigs per litter. That's twelve pigs per year for each fertile female.
The pigs are having a bad effect on the ecosystems wherever they live. Can you imagine how much a thousand pound pig needs to eat every day in order to sustain itself?
Feral pig residential damage
Just what is the problem with all of these feral pigs, wild boars, or whatever you call them?
I chose the image above as an illustration of the damage feral pigs cause specifically because the photo is of a modest residential yard. You can see from the image the area is a nice, residential neighborhood. There are other houses visible too, for Christ's sake. Can you imagine going outside in the middle of the night and being confronted by a group of wild omnivorous creatures potentially weighing in at over a thousand pounds? You could be eaten alive in your front yard. If those pigs will dig up the yard of someone's home in a residential neighborhood, then just imagine what they can do to the farmers crops! These feral hogs are a devastation to the produce produced by America's hardworking and underpaid farmers.
We all have to eat. If you are one of those mentally ill vegan types who values the lives of grasshoppers the same as your own mother's, then start eating the grass in your yard - the rest of us have to worry about the things sane people worry about. Protecting the agriculture of our nations is important. There is no capturing and relocating these feral pigs. Nobody wants them, they are over running both the flora and the fauna in the areas they are overpopulating, and the job of humanity is to take dominion over the Earth and also to protect it. These pigs are as much a threat to humanity for their threats to our agriculture as the overuse of fossil fuels. So, for persons who need a nice bit of a list, here you are, this is why they must be hunted and killed, reduced to a manageable number:
- Tearing up farm and forest land as they root and wallow, destroying acres of agricultural land and crops in just a few days.
- Carrying diseases transmittable to domestic pigs and humans, including swine brucellosis, pseudo-rabies, trichinosis and leptospirosis.
- Competing with wildlife for food.
- Fouling water supplies.
- Feeding on fawns, ground nesting birds and reptiles, and even young livestock.
- Destroying wildlife habitat and sensitive natural areas
- Contributing to erosion and water quality issues.
- Serving as a highway hazard; swine eyes do not reflect in light at night.
- Displaying aggressiveness toward humans with the potential to cause harm.
That is a wild pig attacking a leopard. These pigs are not chumps!
The purpose of the image above is to demonstrate that the wild pigs of this world aren't an animal that is going to run away when you walk out the door and holler at them. Now granted, they don't just up and approach humans much. The leopard, obviously, was in the process of attacking one to make a meal of it, and the boar was doing his pig's duty of defending himself and the other pigs of his crew. The real point of the thing is this - if that boar isn't the slightest bit afraid of an animal as powerful and awesome as is the leopard, then just think how silly you would look in the face of one's wrath.
If you live in rural areas where the wild boar are plentiful, and they are plentiful if you live in any rural area in the English speaking world, then you need a gun, a firearm, a rifle, a big shotgun, you need something. Yes, if you are a great shot with a compound bow or a crossbow, those would work, but it is far superior to have a gun. You know, those things designed for you to kill animals like boars or home invaders? Yes those, you need a gun.
This wild boar supposedly weighed 1800 pounds. What would happen to your car if you hit one late at night?
What diseases might these feral pigs carry?
Feral hogs carry a laundry list of diseases. These diseases can be spread directly to your livestock, and that is yet another threat to farmers and ranchers. You hear about people complaining about vaccinated livestock? Yeah, there is a reason people vaccinate their livestock, maybe you never thought about it.
Anyway, pseudorabies, known as 'the mad itch' is carried in hogs as is swine brucellosis, tuberculosis, bubonic plague, tularemia, hog cholera, foot and mouth disease, and even anthrax. That is hardly all, there is also kidney worms, stomach worms, whipworms and round worms - these are internal parasites. Then there are the liver flukes and trichinosis. External parasites? You betcha, dog ticks, fleas, and hog lice; and lots of them.
A rather ugly feral hog
Can you eat feral pig?
Of course you can eat feral pigs. Preparing pork is always something that must be done thoroughly. Often the problem is the pigs are too big, and in the South, the weather too warm for the person who shot the pig to get the meat cut and put on ice or in the freezer fast enough for it to be safe to cook in the first place.
There are solutions to this problem though. Hog traps will allow one to capture the hogs, and then ship them to slaughter. The meat is supposedly much more flavorful than typical farm raised pork, as it is leaner, and the pigs having led an active lifestyle and eaten a very varied diet cause the meat to have very enhanced flavors. I found a nice read on why we should all be eating more feral pigs.
Whether you eat pork or not, there's a very serious need to handle up on the massive and growing feral pig population. We've ecosystems to worry about. It is our responsibility to maintain things.
A feral pig documentary
So just how, exactly, did we come to have these exploding feral pig populations? It's not like we are lacking people with guns and hunting licenses in the United States. We've plenty of guns and plenty of hunters. The thing is these pigs are very very smart, they reproduce very very quickly, and you're not likely to kill one with your dog.
Surely coyotes can kill these feral pigs? Yeah, coyotes can kill a weak and slow piglet here and there. Coyotes are never large enough to take down an adult unless the animal is sick or injured. Cougars? Yes, the solitary cougar, or mountain lion can kill a wild boar, but there aren't that many cougars out there. The real reason we've got the pig problem is we've mostly eradicated all of the wolves. Wolf packs can keep the feral pig populations in check, it is only a matter of allowing the wolves to exist to begin with. The same farmers and ranchers so upset about livestock losses due to wolves, are the ones dealing with property damage from the feral pigs. You can't always bake your cake and get to eat it too. Thanks for reading, and I hope you go hog hunting soon.
Questions & Answers
How can we solve the sus scrofa problem?
I can't answer that question as though I'm the wisest man for it. I can tell you that what appears to NOT be solving the problem is standard hunting. Where I live in Texas, you can kill AS MANY AS YOU WANT, and it just isn't enough. The pigs are very very smart, and they breed quite often. Also here in Texas, the extremely questionable method of poisons has been discussed, and I think, used. So far as what I know of that works best? Shooting them from helicopters would seem to be the most effective way to reduce populations, it's also probably very expensive to do.
© 2016 Wesman Todd Shaw