Feral hogs were not a problem in the United States until the 1980s. How did they become the multi-billion dollar problem that they are today?
- Published On December 19, 2019
Feral hogs are currently the most destructive animal in the US. There are between one million and six million wild hogs that are wreaking havoc in around 39 American states. Half of these feral hogs are in Texas, where they are doing over $400 million in damages every year. These hogs tear up numerous recreational places and occasionally terrorize tourists in the national and state parks. According to experts, the hunting industry is to blame for this gigantic issue.
What Kind of Problems are Caused by Feral Hogs?
Feral pigs are opportunistic omnivores; therefore, they can consume almost everything. Using their long flattened snouts, these pigs can destroy or devour whole fields of melons, potatoes, soybeans, rice, and wheat, among others. Many farmers in Texas have discovered that they can methodically remove all the planted seeds one-by-one during the night.
Other than destroying plants, feral hogs can consume any food left out for livestock and even eat the livestock, particularly calves, kids, and lambs. They can also devour wildlife as quail and deer, and even consume the eggs of sea turtles. Feral hogs have been known to attack and injure people in the United States. There have been over 100 documented attacks in the US from 1825 to 2012. Out of all these attacks, 5 have been fatal, with the latest victim being Christine Rollins.
The Origin of Feral Hogs in the United States
Pigs are not indigenous to the United States. Pigs were introduced in the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus, and Hernando De-Soto shipped them to Florida. The early settlers in Texas allowed the pigs to roam freely in the state, and during the economic overturns and wars, the settlers abandoned their homes, leaving the hogs to fend for themselves.
The Eurasian wild boars were introduced in Texas during the 1930s and released in the wild for hunting. The Eurasian wild boars then bred with the free-ranging domestic pigs that had been left to fend for themselves.
When Did They Become a Problem?
Wild pigs were not an issue in Texas until the 1980s. Some of the hunters in Texas found the wild pigs more challenging; therefore, they started nurturing the wild pig population in ranches. Some of the captured hogs were released into the wild in other parts of Texas.
The few purebred Eurasian boars in the country were hybridized with feral domestic pigs to increase their population. Currently, the lone-star state allows hunters to hunt the feral pigs all year long without any limitation. Hunters can also capture them and take them to slaughterhouses where they are processed and taken to restaurants where they are exotic meat.