What is in this article?:
- Wild hogs a rapidly multiplying menace for agriculture
- A culture of hunting hogs
- Hybridized with domestic hogs
- An opportunisic omnivore/carnivore
“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.
Hybridized with domestic hogs
“In Mississippi now, we have every combination possible of the Eurasian and Russian wild boars that have hybridized with domestic hogs that have been turned loose or escaped. Most are feral hogs.”
He compares the growth of the hog population in the state to that of deer, the latter which had its beginnings in a deliberate effort to increase numbers.
“In the 1940s and 1950s, there were very few deer in Mississippi and much of the Southeast. It was a big deal to even see a deer. A restocking effort was undertaken by our state natural resources agencies, and about 3,000 deer were initially turned loose and protected from hunting.
“Today, many people think we have too many deer, and they’re eating petunias in urban backyards and causing thousands of vehicle accidents each year.
“We’re seeing much the same situation with wild hogs. Their populations have grown throughout the state, to the point we’re now seeing them not just in fields and forests, but in the urban environment. In cities and towns, they’re turning over garbage cans and rooting around in yards.
“They’re doing tremendous damage to crops, often with complete destruction of peanuts, corn, and a lot of other corps, including rice, watermelons, and even young forest seedlings.”
Scientists first started to study wild hog populations in 1988, surveying their impact on agriculture and domestic livestock and wildlife populations. “By 2009, numbers had mushroomed, and there was rapid spread and colonization,” Strickland says.
“That was the time action should have been taken to stem this tide, when only about 3 percent of the land area of these states was populated by wild hogs,” Strickland says. “At that point, we could probably have stopped the growth. But unfortunately, as has been the case with many invasive species, control programs weren’t instituted.”
Using data from the past 20 years and projecting 20 years forward, the wild hog picture could get downright scary, he says.
“It’s the most prolific large mammal in the U.S. They are sexually mature earlier than deer; they can have two litters every 15 months, with 4 to 6 piglets per litter surviving to one year of age. They have the capacity to double in number each year.