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.
An opportunisic omnivore/carnivore
“If you were to write down a recipe for the success of an invasive species, wild hogs have it all: Diet — they will eat almost anything. Habitat — they can live almost anywhere. Reproductive rate — extremely high. Mortality — their only predator is humans. Occasionally, an alligator or a coyote will get one, but that’s a drop in the bucket.
“It’s an opportunistic omnivore. Its diet is about 90 percent vegetation, including many of our Mississippi crops, and native vegetation. It is also an opportunistic carnivore, eating salamanders, frogs, rabbits — anything it can get its mouth on is subject to being eaten. It consumes 3 percent to 5 percent of its body weight each day, whether from crops, wildlife, or urban garbage cans. For your crops, that’s from day 1 across your entire crop growing season — the damage can be significant.”
Wild hogs also carry diseases, Strickland says. Pseudorabies and swine brucellosis are just two examples. Several diseases can be transmitted to native wildlife, domestic livestock, and even to humans.
“They compete with our desirable wildlife for food and habitat. In the fall, they have a 50 percent diet overlap with deer. If you have a deer conservation program and there are a lot of wild hogs on your land, the deer are losing — half their food is going into the hogs’ mouths. They will also kill a wide cross-section of wildlife, including fawns, turkey poults, qual, snakes, rabbits, etc., when they can catch them.
“Nationally, it’s estimated they do $1.5 billion damage yearly to crops, livestock, forests, and the ecology, including water contamination, but not including disease outbreaks.”
What can be done?
“Toxicants are the only control method that show any promise, Strickland says. “These are very effective — but currently, they are not legal. There are still unresolved questions of how to deliver them to hogs only, without impacting non-target wildlife, what is the proper dose that will be lethal to them, but not to scavengers.”
While contraceptives are sometimes suggested, “They are not an option,” he says. “They require multiple doses to be effective, and there is a potential health impact if humans eat the meat.”
Until a toxicant may be approved, he says, trapping is the best single method of control for landowners.
“We have some great informational resources, and we conduct all-day workshops that include information on trapping.
“The thing is, you have to take this very seriously. If you have hogs on your property now, you’re already behind the curve. If your neighbor has hogs, you’d better work with him to control them, or you’ll have them too.
“You don’t want to get into a situation where eradication becomes impossible, as has happened in most of Texas. The longer we let this go, the more difficult is going to be to ever get them under control.
Online resources are available at www.wildpiginfo.com, where you can download the publication, “A Landowner's Guide for Wild Pig Management: Practical Methods for Wild Pig Control.”