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“Wild hogs are eating machines — they’ll eat anything they can get their mouth on, whether it’s soybeans, peanuts, corn, watermelons, rabbits, snakes, stuff in your garbage can, you name it,” says Bronson Strickland of Mississippi State University.
GORDON DARBY, from left, Novozymes, Marks, Miss.; Byrne Carpenter, Nichino America, Inc., Senatobia, Miss.; and Jim Nichols, Novozymes, Leland, Miss., were among those attending the annual meeting of the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association.
From Mississippi crop fields, to the Vicksburg National Military Park and the Mississippi River levee, to the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, golf courses, and even many suburban home areas, wild hogs are bringing their own unique mode of destruction.
“They’re eating machines — they’ll eat anything they can get their mouth on, whether it’s soybeans, peanuts, corn, watermelons, rabbits, snakes, stuff in your garbage can, you name it,” says Bronson Strickland, Mississippi State University associate Extension professor of wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture and associate director for Extension and outreach of the Center for Resolving Human-Wildlife Conflicts. Since 2007, he has been working with Extension Agents and landowners to control wild pig populations in Mississippi.
“These animals can exploit almost any ecosystem,” he says. “They can live anywhere, from snowy northern regions to beaches to woods to semi-arid climates. There is no place in Mississippi they can’t colonize; as long as they’re within a day’s reach of water, they can thrive.”
And talk about multiplication: they’ve got rabbits beat by a mile, and even deer, which some wildlife specialists say now outnumber cattle in Mississippi.
“One pregnant sow can multiply to 40 hogs in five years, in 10 years 605, and in 20 years, 122,000 — that’s the concept of compound interest in living, eating, destructive form,” Strickland said at the annual conference of the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association.
In reality, he says, that much population growth is not sustainable, “because there would be so many hogs they’d be eating everything in sight.”
Still, the reproductive potential of the animals is so staggering, he says, that unless constructive steps are taken to corral their explosive growth and spread, “We’re going to be in for real trouble down the road.”
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Today, Strickland says, about 40 percent of Mississippi’s land area is populated by wild hogs, and that’s expanding at about half a million acres per year. The only area of the state less affected is the Delta, due to less cover.
In an effort to stem the tide of foraging piggies, the Mississippi House of Representatives recently passed a bill, 107 to 6, to prohibit the transportation of wild hogs, a practice Strickland says has been a major contributor to their spread. The measure has the support of the politically powerful Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.