Trying to Control Wild Hogs

Trying to Control Wild Hogs

Swine are not native to North America. A few were dropped off in the Caribbean Islands by Christopher Columbus. Spanish explorers captured some of those and brought them to present-day Florida, where they began fanning out over most of the southeast. Today, wild hogs have been reported in at least 45 states.

Pigs can cause destruction to the landscape like no other animal on this continent. They are highly adaptable to every habitat. Sows can have up to three litters averaging six pigs every 14 months and they don’t have many natural predators. They’ll eat almost anything and perhaps most unfortunate, they’re terribly smart. This is why trying to control wild hogs has become the most difficult task land managers and hunters face.

Trying to control wild hogs is tough, especially when sows average about three litters per year.
Trying to control wild hogs is tough, especially when sows average about three litters per year.

The range expansion of feral swine is mostly the result of illegal translocation by humans. Texas, Florida and other infested states have become popular destinations for people willing to pay money to shoot a few and outfitters have exploited that desire to make an easy buck. Many will also escape from preserves, where “game fences” are supposed to keep every big game animal from getting out or in. But as they saying goes, any fence that can hold water can hold a pig.

Effects on Wildlife

As wild hogs move into new environments, they compete with the local fauna for food. Deer and turkey will avoid pigs and the areas they frequent, including mast-producing hardwood trees and agricultural areas, even food plots. For the most part, the swine is a herd animal. Whereas one or two deer may congregate around a persimmon tree, several hogs can wipe the forest floor clean in a matter of hours.

Effects on Agriculture

Their propensity to spread disease makes wild hogs dangerous to domestic animals. And not only do they damage native plant species, they can also take a heavy toll on crops by rooting and wallowing the fields in which they feed. These damaged plant communities therefore directly affect the wildlife.

Hunting

When hogs move into your area, start killing them as fast as you can. While the efforts of one hunter will hardly stymie their presence, a cooperative among neighboring properties can decelerate the damage. But if you really want to get serious about eradication, consider trapping.

Trapping

This is by far the most effective method for getting rid of wild hogs. It’s a continuous process that requires the least time and effort by you. Find high-use sites to place your traps. These are not necessarily the spots where hog damage is prevalent, rather cool, shady areas near water where they like to spend most of the day. Placing traps along travel routes that lead to and from these “loafing” areas should yield the most catches.

Begin baiting prospective trap sites to see if hogs are actively using the area and check it daily. Then, when you’ve determined they are, place your trap. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to test several areas. If you can, hang a trail camera over each bait pile.

Trapping and relocating, however, known as a nonlethal method of eradicating pigs, doesn’t work very well. Because when they relocate, then what? Sure, some may depart your property, but the effort is not worth the countless piglets that’ll replace the ones you removed. When you catch pigs in a trap, kill them.

Lastly, report anyone that’s trapping and transporting wild hogs. Their sweep of the country may be inevitable, but at least we can help slow it down. About the only upside to having pigs in your area is they make pretty good table fare.