Feral hogs can reek havoc to yards, properties, and habitats in areas where this invasive have seen a dramatic increase in numbers and range over recent years, especially in Texas and other Southern states.
Feral hogs, (also known as razorbacks or wild boar), are wild descendants of pigs originally brought to the America’s by the Spanish, or escapee domestic pigs. The main methods of getting rid of them are preventative measures or hunting and/or relocation.
Although domesticated pigs and wild hogs are technically the same animal, their different disposition from their tame, calmer counterparts make wild hogs a tricky force to be reckoned with.
Reasons to Get Rid of Feral Hogs
These big piggies are not your run-of-the-mill Wilbur’s from E.B. Whites Charlotte’s Web, these things can be mean.
Don’t get me wrong, I love pigs, and not just when they’re in bacon and pork forms.
Our family raised some large blacks, and Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs for several years and enjoyed having them as part of our small little farm.
However, there is a big difference between domesticated pits and wild pigs.
Pigs in general can cause some serious damage to homes, yards in businesses by their survival skills of foraging, rooting, trampling, and wallowing.
The difference is that domesticated pigs are penned up to a certain degree, limiting the amount of damage to a certain confined area, whereas wild pigs roam as they destroy property indiscriminately.
Wild Pigs Temperament
Another difference is in their attitude towards humans.
As I states before, pigs can be mean.
Not just wild pigs, but all pigs.
However, unlike wild pigs, domesticated pigs can develop a relationship to humans like the cute furry Kune Kune pigs.
They may just see a person as a food dispenser, but that still goes a long way on how they interact with you.
Some can even be friendly and bond on a more personal level and can make fantastic pets.
Wild hogs are a different story.
They do not see humans directly as food providers, although they may recognize the correlation between human presence and food availability.
The name ‘razorback’, not only came from the long hairs that stick up straight across some of their spines, but for their temperament as well.
If they feel threatened they will attack.
Not only are they deceptively fast, but carry some razor sharp teeth and tusks that can cause serious damage to their victims.
Damages Caused by Feral Hogs
Pigs are omnivores, meaning they eat pretty much anything, meat or vegetable or leftover convivence store snacks.
Texas A&M mentions that a pig can sense a smell from over 5-7 miles away, and up to 25 underground.
That means if a pig smells something tasty, it will stop at nothing until it finds it.
Pigs are intelligent creatures with basic problem solving skills.
If they can’t find food out in the forest, they will come seeking it in yards and garbage cans.
They will knock down, or even climb over any flimsy barrier that stands between them and their prize.
This can include knocking down garbage cans, tearing down insufficient fencing, tearing up gardens, possible altercations with pets, and possible confrontations with humans.
Fun fact, have you ever seen a hog with a nose ring?
That nose ring is there to prevent a pig from rooting.
Rooting is when a pig uses its nose to get to food, usually by tearing into the ground and digging things up.
Farmers and gardeners find this to be very problematic.
Unlike deer, goats, and sheep who just graze on foliage, pigs dig things up by the roots.
In a single night, a pig can completely decimate a garden, leaving nothing salvageable.
Wild hogs can cause severe agricultural damage just by moving from one source to another.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife mention how feral hogs usually live in groups.
Although boars (males) can be solitary, they can also join groups of other boars, while the sows (females) live in family groups of around six individuals.
However, several family groups are known to come together, creating what is know as a souder.
These family groups walking across agricultural fields, or someone’s garden can flatten a lot of plants that may not recover from the physical trauma of being stepped on by dozens of cloven hooves.
Unlike us, pigs cannot sweat, and unlike other animals are not cooled off when they pant.
To stay cool and to avoid heat stroke, pigs need to find outward ways of cooling off.
They do this by finding shady spots, and also by wallowing in mud.
Pigs have a dirty reputation of being, well…dirty.
However, rolling in mud is actually a coping mechanism to not overheat in warm weather.
By covering themselves in mud, the water evaporates leaving the surface of their skin cooler, and the mud helps protect against excessive sunlight exposure.
Mud also helps keep the pigs from bug bites, which is very helpful when they live in areas with large mosquito populations.
However, a mud hole may not always be conveniently available.
So pigs, being the opportunistic creatures that they are create their own.
If they can find a water source that can be used to create mud, they will use it and use their snouts and large bodies that can reach up to weights of 400 lbs. to create a big deep hole for them to stay cool in.
Pig wallows can be very damaging to properties, especially since any vegetation nearby is ripped up in the process of creating it.
Feral Hogs Impact on Habitat
Unlike their very distantly related cousins, Javelinas, pigs are not native to the America’s and are direct competition to many native species for resources.
They eat and destroy habitats, putting a strain on animals who stand no chance against the pigs size or voracious appetites.
Since pigs have few to no natural predators to keep their numbers in check, the pig’s population is expanding at exponential rates, more habitat loss and strain on existing native populations are expected.
Why are there so many pigs?
Unlike Javelina that only two offspring at a time, pigs can have litters of six or more piglets at a time.
In fact, when my pigs gave birth we averaged around ten piglets each litter.
Couple that with the young maturity age of about six months, few if any natural predators, ability to eat almost anything, and can live almost everywhere, you have the makings of an infestation.
How to Prevent Hog Damage
Preventing hogs from damaging property is the best and most long term cost efficient method of dealing with these feral animals.
Some simple steps home and property owners can take to prevent wild hogs from destroying property include:
- Keep trashcans secured in a fenced in area.
- Feed pets inside, or make sure pet food is not left outside overnight.
- Erect solid fencing at least 4 feet high, or chained linked fences over 5 feet high that are firmly anchored.
- Making sure there are no leaking hoses or water valves to attract thirsty or hot pigs.
- Make sure that hogs do not have access to any shady spots in the yard or under the house.
Be aware that pigs are highly intelligent animals, and if there is a way to break through to a food source, they will find it.
Keep vigilant and observe what is attracting them to your property and take steps to remove the temptation from the pigs awareness (make sure they cannot see or smell what they are looking for).
Hunting Wild Hogs
One way that many individuals deal with feral hogs is by hunting them down.
Since hogs/pigs are an invasive species, most states are lenient on the season and number of animals that are hunted.
In fact, some states even have no bag limits when it comes to hunting hogs as well as year round hunting seasons.
However, each state, and in some cases counties, have their own sets of rules and regulations regarding hog hunting.
To see what your area’s policy for hog hunting, check out this website from Hogman Outdoors.
Make Sure Your Target is a Hog
Before you set out to get a hog, make sure that you know how to distinguish them from other animals, especially from javelinas which have a very similar appearance, but are a protected species.
To tell if it is a hog, look for:
- Tails. Pigs have very distinguishable tails with hair on the ends. Javelina have very short tales that are hard to see at a distance.
- Size. If it is a large animal, it is most likely a hog, since Javelina’s reach up to only 40-60 lbs.
- Lack of a natural white ‘collar’. Although similar in color, javelinas, also known as collard peccaries have thin white ‘collars’ around their necks.
- Amount of young. If you see a sow with several piglets, it is a hog. Javelina usually only have two young at a time.
What You Need to Hunt Wild Hogs
To hunt wild hog, it is recommended that you have the following:
- Proper licenses and permits needed for hunting hog.
- A firearm that is powerful enough to take down a medium to large animal. American Hunter.org has recommendations specifically for hog hunting.
- A way to transport, process and store the animal. Some animals can weigh more than 500 lbs. , so it is important to decide on the best way to transport the animal.
- Pig bait, which comes in a variety of scents are used to lure wild hogs to you.
Is it Legal to Kill a Wild Hog Without a Hunting License?
Depending on the area you are hunting, a hunting license may or may not be required, especially if the hog is destroying your property.
It is always wise to check your areas policies and requirements when it comes to hunting any animal.
How to Trap Hogs
Mississippi State University Extension, gives some great advice when it comes to trapping hogs.
They suggest doing something called prebaiting, which is getting pigs lured and comfortable to the trap area a few times before setting off the trap.
This way, more individuals are brought into the trap, making it easier to get several pigs in one trap.
However it may take a couple of weeks of prebaiting before the animals overcome their trap shyness.
They recommend placing the largest amount of bait at the furthest side of the trap, with only a small amount near trigger mechanism.
This way, the majority of the pigs will go towards the large pile, not setting off the trap until an animal is pushed to eat the small pile of bait, allowing for a larger catch.
They also have great ideas for setting other traps, take a look.
Getting Rid of Hogs without Hunting or Trapping
If preventative measures are not working in discouraging hogs from your yard, or you do not want to hunt them, it may be time to call a professional to handle the situation.
In many areas, animal control can be called upon to handle wild hogs.
However, a lot of times the animal has to be physically present for animal control to apprehend them.
This is a great option if the animal can be corralled or locked up in a space until animal control can arrive.
There are also several hog exterminating companies that are able to track down, trap, and exterminate hogs.
What if I Don’t Want the Animal to Get Hurt?
It is possible to trap and relocate an animal.
However, there are often rule and regulations dictating who is authorized to capture an animal, and where they can be relocated to.
There are also laws in certain areas that dictate how long you can keep a live animal on your property.
As stated before, check your areas local laws and regulations to determine how to legally keep and eventually relocate an animal.
Can I Keep a Wild Hog as a Pet?
This is a tricky question.
Not only because of differing ordinances, zoning, and regulation issues, but because the steps it would take to ‘adopt’ a wild hog.
Generally, if the pig is an adult and has always been wild, it is highly likely that re-domestication will prove extremely difficult and likely to fail.
The pig will instinctually want to escape any pen it is placed in, and will view humans as a threat, making it likely to charge and injure people.
However, if you find yourself with a piglet, there is a chance that it can be re-domesticated.
If the piglet sees you as their only source of food, and they are away from the peer pressure of other wild pigs, there is a chance that they can begin to trust you and bond with you.
Remember-Make sure you check your local ordinances before you emotionally invest to care for any wild animal.
Uses For Hunted Hogs
Some states and businesses offer hunters incentives, and sometimes monetary bounties for harvesting wild hogs.
This Little Piggy Went to Market
Harvested pigs can be processed in the same manner as traditional pigs into pork products such as bacon, roast, sausage, and more.
Wild hog meat is generally much leaner than farm raised meat, and is considered very good to eat.
However, if the animal is a big older boar, the meat may be tougher and stronger tasting than that of a younger animal.
If you don’t want to process your own meat, contact a local meat processing center to see if they would like to buy your animal or process it for your personal use.
Take Action Now
If your yard is being targeted by wild hogs, now is the time to take action.
Take the preventative steps needed to discourage them from entering your yard, and if all else fails, make sure you protect your property and family from a tragic hog encounter.