- Wild Pig Damage to Agriculture
Wild Pig Damage to Agriculture
About the Feral Pig
Known as nature's 'bull dozers,' these feral pigs mostly feast on herb plants including mushrooms and grub worms. Additionally, they enjoy grass, egg, oats, rice, wheat, peanuts and fruit. In the forest, they will hunt for acorns, nuts and other woody species and will eat small mammals and newborns, if their mood strikes.
Native to Asia, Africa and Europe, feral pigs are a growing problem in the United States and on the southern prairies in Canada. They can live up to 20 years; but usually only see 4-8 years because of high mortality rates from predators. They are highly adaptable wild animals, found in both wet and dry regions: tropical rain forests, semi-arid brush, swamps, marshes and more. They are quick, despite their appearance, racing as fast as 30-35mph.
Wild pigs come in a variety of sizes. Feral pigs found in the southeastern part of the U.S. average 220 pounds for an adult male (boar) and 155 pounds for an adult female (sow). Generally, they are black or dark brown in color or will have a combination of coloring because of their diverse ancestry.
Wild boars are found in nearly 45 states across the United States and have recently been sighted in Michigan, Florida, Oregon, South Carolina and North Dakota.
They cause millions of dollars in agricultural damage in the United States annually by rooting, trampling on crops, and eating them.
Warning to Gardeners: If you find holes or ruts in your farm or garden, you may have a wild pig problem.
Feral hogs aren't just a problem for farming and agriculture; they are a problem for humans and livestock, too.
The damage by wild pigs on U.S. agriculture and the
environment currently stands at $1.5 billion annually!
In addition to agricultural damage to farms, wild pigs eat hard mast including acorns, hickory nuts and pine nuts in forest regions. Wild hogs will even go as far as to root up pine seedlings and consume the roots. While on the never-ending search for food, they will stop to use the sap on trees (usually pines or hardwoods) as scratching or scent marking posts. The intense rubbing can damage bark and can cause insects and other animals to be susceptible to diseases.
Wild Pigs reduce water quality in streams and can add contaminants causing trouble for a variety of aquatic life including fish, amphibians, freshwater mussels and insect larvae.
Additionally, they affect soil quality and can lead to a spread of invasive plant species.
Don't let the stocky bodies fool you, boars can be quite fast and will catch small mammals to eat including newborn white-tailed deer, snails, birds, frogs, and insects. They will also feast on livestock animals including newborn goats, sheep and valves.
Wild boars are an increasing risk to the human health of hikers on trails, gardeners and farmers. If you see one, take caution. They can exhibit aggressive behaviors and will attack if they feel threatened. It is advised to climb a tree or take shelter, if you can. Data indicates that 33 percent of unprovoked attacks occurred during the wintertime and decrease risk in summer at 17 percent. Violent attacks were found in states including Texas, Florida and South Carolina.
Wild pigs can carry over 24 diseases and transmit diseases to humans, pets and livestock through bodily fluid contact, handling or ingestion of infected tissue. Once infected, hogs carry the germs for life. Transmittable diseases by wild pigs include (courtesy of MSU Wild Pig Info):
- E. coli
- Swine Influenza viruses
Like humans, pigs are a danger to livestock animals, passing pathogens and diseases onto horses, dogs, and other livestock. Transmittable animal health diseases include:
- Pseudorabies Virus (PRV)
- Swine brucellosis (Brucella suis)
- Bovine tuberculosis (TB)
- African swine fever
- Classical swine fever (Hog Cholera)
- Foot and Mouth Disease
The most effective means for wild pig management from farms and gardens is by installing fencing.
Wild pigs can jump over fences less than three feet high;
so, this is Deerbusters recommended height for a fence.