Hogs Gone Wild could be the title of a horror movie featuring some of the most destructive creatures to find wild America to their liking. We’re talking about feral pigs here, and the scene isn’t pretty.
Feral pigs are getting a lot of attention lately and for good reason: their numbers are increasing rapidly and their destructive feeding habits are creating havoc in woodlots and other rural habitat.
Ohio isn’t immune. The Buckeye state has its share of feral pigs, mostly from animals that have escaped captivity in one form or another. Once on their own, pigs turn wild in a hurry and their numbers grow, seemingly overnight.
Texas claims the worst infestation, with an estimated 2.5 million feral pigs or about half of the national wild hog population.
Lone Star varmint hunters, and a host of other pig control efforts, claimed to have killed some 754,646 feral pigs last year, but in order to check their population growth researchers say the combined efforts must eliminate more than twice that number. Texas officials are hoping hunters start targeting pigs instead of killing them incidentally.
Ohio hunters are encouraged to kill feral pigs too, and a handful of hunters actually do chase and kill pigs, with hounds trained for the task.
Feral pigs mature at just eight months and from then on they produce unchecked litters. That is the root of the problem.
Texas will throw a hefty $7 million at the problem this year and neighbor New Mexico will toss $1 million at their similar pig problem.
With an estimated 5 million feral hogs ripping national wilderness to shreds, the issue is a growing problem.
Wild hogs are considered an invasive species — much like unwanted creatures that invade the Great Lakes — things that change the balance of nature. It can happen by chance or by design, and the result is seldom good.
Interestingly, invasive species never seem to have a predator, a species higher in the food chain.
Feral hogs are no exception. They are unchallenged in the wild and it seems aggressive and funded programs designed to check the national wild pig population are the only possible solution.