A bloated hog carcass waits on the edge of cornfield, a gallows warning to scores of other hogs in the area. It smells ripe, sits directly on a hog-run — and does absolutely no good.
Wild hogs, once only a nuisance on young producer Chris Lively’s Mississippi farmland, are no longer just roaming through — they’ve dug in for the long-term. At Lively Farms, Coahoma County, wild hogs are beginning to make their mark and show clear signs of a population burst.
“Typically in the past we haven’t had a whole lot of hog trouble. But in the last three years we’ve been hit with a progressively larger hog population. It’s become a serious issue because they are destroying our crops.”
The progression has been simple to note for Lively. Three years ago he estimates only 10 to 12 acres of corn were destroyed. But last year the hogs started tearing up his rice fields by trampling levees and dishing out huge wallows in the paddies. The mashed down levees and expanding wallows were a drain on time and labor.
In the past, Lively has been able to chase hogs out; usually they were just passing through. Pressure worked as traps and shooting took care of their presence. But the hogs have grown accustomed to Lively’s prevention measures and trapping and baiting are no longer working well. The mature hogs are wary and won’t go near the traps. When Lively catches a hog, now it’s usually a young one.
“It’s fair to say I’m anticipating a growing hog problem on my farm — unless we can do something to control them. I’ve been told that I need to kill 70 percent of my hog population to keep the numbers level. That means if I have 100 hogs, I need to kill 70 to keep the population from swelling. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but there’s a lot of hogs out there.”
At this point, the crop damage is limited and despite the hogs tearing out whole blocks of corn, it’s the progression of activity that has Lively alarmed. “It’s hard to get a read on damage and I could tell by flying over my land. I don’t even know how many acres of damage they’ve caused this year in my corn and rice. But I’ll find out when I combine across the fields. Each year they’re getting more active. Next year will be worse for me — most definitely.”
Lively farms approximately 4,700 acres of corn, soybeans, rice, wheat, and pecans; and thinks he may have 100 hogs. “Right now, I’m not at all sure how many hogs we’ve got — maybe 100 or so, but again, my real concern is their expansion rate. We’re getting more and more hogs every year.”
And it’s not just crop damage: Lively hasn’t had any trouble with hogs eating his soybeans, but they’ve torn up polypipe with increasing frequency. “They’ll drink that irrigation water and wallow around the pipe and really tear it up. Again, it’s time and labor because it’s something we have to stay on top of; something we have to fix.”
(See related: Giant feral pig killed by Mississippi farmers)
Lively knows the hogs are set with food, water and cover: “They have something to eat in the corn; something to drink from irrigation; and something to hide in — the woods. It’s the perfect hog scenario. Why would a hog leave?”
When it comes to wild hogs, Lively is plain-spoken: “Nobody has an answer yet; not farmers and not the state. What can you do? These hogs I’ve got now are not passing through. They’re here to stay. For farmers around here without hogs — well, they soon will have them.”
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