Let’s war on the enemy within: Feral hogs


For more than a decade, the federal government has been handling out military equipment to local governments while expanding the budget and capabilities of the Department of Homeland Security.   It is time to use this equipment and capability on a dangerous enemy within:  Feral hogs.

You think I’m kidding?

wild_hogs_7The feral hog population of the United States numbers in the millions.   Nobody knows how many there are.  One source says there are 5 million in the USA, another that there are 2.5 million in Texas alone.  All agree that their numbers are increasing rapidly and that they are spreading to all states of the Union.

Feral hogs destroy an estimated $1.5 billion worth of  livestock and crops every year.  They kill  game animals and destroy the natural habitat—the latter by rooting up trees, shrubs and plants until nothing is left but a wasteland.   They carry diseases and parasites than can spread to people and livestock.

They breed frequently and have large litters.  Game experts say it is necessary to kill 60 to 70 percent of the wild hog population every year just to keep the population stable.

Copy_of_SL_8_21_08_Gone_hog_wild!_part1On a visit to San Antonio, I met a man who makes a living hunting feral hogs.  He said they typically weigh hundreds of pounds, and he has seen tracks of a hog that must have weighed 1,000.

The feral hog population originated with the first Spanish settlers of the Southwest, who brought herds of pigs with them to assure a secure meat supply.   U.S. pioneers in the South and Southwest would typically let their hogs roam free, and hunt and kill them when they needed meat to eat.   Natural selection made the surviving wild hog population more intelligent and adaptable.

The turning point came when sportsmen imported wild boars as game animals.   Wild boars are ferocious, intelligent and hard to kill.  They have thick skulls and thick hides, and can be killed only by a well-aimed, high-caliber bullet hitting a vital organ.  A wounded wild boar is one of the most dangerous creatures on earth.   And they have no natural predators, at least not in North America.

trophyboarhogSome wild boars escaped into the wild and inter-bred with the existing feral hog population.  The result was a super-hog, like something out of a Michael Crichton novel.   When I read about these creatures and their adaptability and ability to learn, I give thanks that they don’t have opposable thumbs.

Feral hogs can’t be controlled by ordinary hunting methods.   We need to mobilize our war technology—helicopter gunships, infrared sensors, killer drones, signature strikes.  We also could use the help of people who have stockpiled high-caliber, military-type weapons.  They could make a good contribution by organizing into well-ordered militias and fighting an undisputed enemy within.

Feral hogs are gaining a foothold in New York state, but they’re not yet a noticeable problem here in the Rochester area.  We have deer, which have lost their fear of humankind, wandering into the suburbs and sometimes into the city, which is a big nuisance.  A farmer friend of mine is troubled by coyotes, which have migrated from west to east in North America.  But as yet, no feral hogs.

The feral hog situation is much worse in some parts of Europe.  Wild boars wander into urban areas in Germany and have been known to attack people.  Some of them are radioactive, a lingering result of the Chernobyl disaster, although all that really means in practice is that their meat is not safe to eat.

If you still think feral hogs are a joke, I challenge you to click on the following links, and then tell me what you think.

Who Can Stop These Adorable Pigs?

History of Wild Pigs: Population Introduction, Distribution and Spread

feral-hog-43753476440Feral hog control sometimes warrants a military solution

Hunting Wild Pigs With Drones

Even with current harvest, feral hog population will double

Feral pigs population fight: There’s no bacon down

The boar war: Hunters using DRONES and high-power firearms … to kill pigs in America’s deep south [added 1/11/14]

Is feral hog battle winnable in New York?

Here is a link to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s feral swine page.

Feral Swine – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

And here is a link to a report from Europe.

A Quarter Century After Chernobyl, Radioactive Boar on the Rise in Germany

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