An ‘aporkalypse’ has Texas fighting a losing battle against feral hogs
Now numbering in the millions, these destructive and invasive wild hogs wreak havoc across the southern United States
Hogs were introduced to Texas in the 1500s by Spanish explorers and cross-bred with imported European boars in the last century, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife department. Adults are omnivorous, weigh from 100 to more than 400 pounds and have sharp tusks.
Mainly nocturnal, they can breed from as young as six months and produce litters of, on average, four to six – but up to twelve – piglets as often as three times every 18 months. Scouting for food, they damage crops, fields, trees and habitations and sometimes eat other wildlife.
The wily hogs seem to thrive in almost any conditions, climate or ecosystem in the South. They are surprisingly intelligent mammals and evade the best efforts to trap or kill them (and those that have been unsuccessfully hunted are even smarter). They have no natural predators.
Wild hogs are “opportunistic omnivores,” meaning they’ll eat most anything. Using their extra-long snouts, flattened and strengthened on the end by a plate of cartilage, they can root as deep as three feet. They’ll devour or destroy whole fields—of sorghum, rice, wheat, soybeans, potatoes, melons and other fruits, nuts, grass and hay. Farmers planting corn have discovered that the hogs go methodically down the rows during the night, extracting seeds one by one.
Hogs erode the soil and muddy streams and other water sources, possibly causing fish kills. They disrupt native vegetation and make it easier for invasive plants to take hold. The hogs claim any food set out for livestock, and occasionally eat the livestock as well, especially lambs, kids and calves. They also eat such wildlife as deer, turkey and quail and feast on the eggs of endangered sea turtles.
Because of their susceptibility to parasites and infections, wild hogs are potential carriers of disease. Swine brucellosis and pseudorabies are the most problematic because of the ease with which they can be transmitted to domestic pigs and the threat they pose to the pork industry. And those are just the problems wild hogs cause in rural areas. In suburban and even urban parts of Texas, they’re making themselves at home in parks, on golf courses and on athletic fields. They treat lawns and gardens like a salad bar and tangle with household pets.
Wild hogs are among the most destructive invasive species in the United States today. Study suggests two million to six million of the animals are wreaking havoc in at least 39 states; half are in Texas, where they do some $52 million in damages annually. They tear up land and squeeze out other wildlife.
Texas allows hunters to kill wild hogs year-round without limits or capture them alive to take to slaughterhouses to be processed an thousands more are shot from helicopters. The goal is not eradication, which few believe possible, but control.
An estimated 750,000 of the animals are harvested each year – not enough to keep pace with the birth rate.
As things stand, the number of feral hogs in Texas is predicted to grow by 16% annually, roughly doubling in five years. They already cause an estimated $52m in damage to the state’s agriculture industry each year. And they are becoming partial to the comforts of suburban life.
Here is a video showing the measures taken to try to help control this invasive species by the Pure Instinct Hunting team.