Feral swine are known by several names in English: hog, pig, piggy, piglet, warthog, boar, sow and more. Originally transported to North America by explorers and settlers in the 16th century, one billion swine are butchered each year in the USA.
They are livestock used for human food, clothing, cosmetics and medicinal purposes. America—and the rest of the world—has profited off swine in countless ways.
A livestock pig with tagged ear
Enter Newton’s Third Law: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. For all the benefits of farmed swine, there are drawbacks. Pigs are smart. They have escaped farms, traps and shipping containers.
They have chewed through wires and jumped over fences. Pigs have done more than exist, wild and free, in rural America – they have thrived and reproduced. Decades of mixed effort have failed to prevent these wild populations, these feral swine, from growing in number.
Wild pigs are an economic problem farmers, ranchers and rural Americans know all too well.
The Feral Swine Issue
The feral hog problem in the United States is well documented. Thirty-five American states now have sustainable populations of feral swine consisting of escaped domestic pigs, Eurasian boars and hybrids.
There are over six million total feral swine in the country. They do more than two billion dollars in property damage each year. Twelve states allow year-round hunting and no bag limits in an effort to reduce their populations.
This seems like a great deal of trouble over some swine, right? But these swine are not like Miss Piggy from the Muppets or Porky Pig from Looney Tunes. These creatures are much, much worse…
A large feral boar
In the United States, farmers and ranchers make up a mere 1.3% of the total population, or about 4.5 million people. After accounting for production, labor and distribution costs, farmers receive 8 cents per dollar on the worth of the food they produce. Ask any farmer in America—they’re mainly in California, Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska and Texas—and you will hear firsthand how difficult farming is.
It is backbreaking labor from dusk till dawn, and farming won’t make someone wealthy, but it’s vitally important. People need to eat. With the above information, don’t you want farmers to have the best farming conditions and the least amount of preventable problems?
Ask any sane person about the state of American food safety, and they’ll agree – farmers need all the help and consideration they can get.
Farming is a tough life
Consider feral swine. They inflict just under 1 billion dollars in direct damage to US agriculture each year. Wild pigs do not just come along, munch on a carrot or two, help themselves to some oats, then go about their business.
What Do Swine Eat?
No – adults can weigh from 300-700 pounds and consume almost any plant they come across, except for large trees and a few weeds.
They eat the tender leaves, fruits, nuts, roots, sprigs and seeds of anything their snout deems desirable. Feral swine overturn sod and pasture in their search for food, preventing any future crop life from growing, indirectly encouraging undesirable weeds species to grow in their place.
They dig up whole fields, leaving potholes that can blow-out a tractor tire or cause a horse to break its leg.
They trample anything they can’t eat and ‘wallow’ in ponds, rivers and lakes, fouling freshwater sources. Feral hogs chew through irrigation lines, trellises or any other specialized equipment associated with agriculture.
They can also transmit infectious diseases and parasites onto healthy livestock they encounter. Basically, feral swine are very, very nasty creatures.
Feral swine are nasty creatures
US Agriculture feeds not only hundreds of millions of Americans, but it contributes over half of all foreign aid to the world’s hungriest countries.
Feral hogs are not just destructive to agriculture – they are a menace to the global supply chain. If you care about your family’s food security, you can’t turn a blind eye to the feral pig problem in the United States. It’s just too big.
Feral swine are opportunistic omnivores, but that’s not completely accurate. They will eat anything that has calories in it. Everyone knows they eat traditional farmer crops—fruits and vegetables—but did you know they eat worms, insects, larvae, small mammals, eggs, birds and lizards?
Feral swine deplete food sources that other animals rely on, forcing them into starvation. They will literally eat almost anything, and their glutinous behavior destroys the biodiversity of the environments they invade.
As of 2020, they have pushed nearly 300 U.S. native plant and animal species to the brink of extinction.