Perceptions of Feral Hogs in the U.S.

Feral Hogs September 25, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF
 
Figure 1.  Feral hog piglets might be attractive to some and considered a nuisance to others.  Photo courtesy of Vladimir Dinets, University of Miami, bugwood.org.

Viewpoints about Feral Hogs

People express a variety of attitudes and opinions about feral hogs (also called wild pigs or wild hogs; Sus scrofa).  Some like to hunt or watch feral hogs (Fig. 1).  Landowners who experience property, crop, and livestock damage from feral hogs seek ways to reduce these negative effects.  Many who are unfamiliar with feral hogs may have ambivalent attitudes or no opinions about them.  Studies of peoples' perceptions of feral hogs have largely focused on Texas landowners.

A study in Texas (Clark et al. 2005) asked 775 landowners (74% ranchers, 18% farmers) their perceptions of feral hogs.  Those respondents with feral hogs on their property (80%) were asked about the positive and negative the values of having hogs.  Respondents reported feral hogs were a/an:

  • agricultural pest (89%)
  • economic liability (50%)
  • environmental liability (45%)
  • disease hazard (34%)
  • recreational asset for hunters (30%)

Problems with Feral Hogs

In the Texas study, the types of reported damage were:

  • rooting damage to roads, ponds, or fields (87%)
  • wallowing in tanks and streams (65%)  
  • crop damage (53%)
  • loss of supplemental feed for livestock or wildlife (49%)
  • fence damage (47%)
  • disease transmission to livestock (10%)
  • no damage caused be feral hogs (10%)

Methods and Economics of Feral Hog Control

Landowners in the Texas study used various degrees of intensity in controlling feral hogs.  Intensive hog control programs were conducted by 23% of the respondents.  Another 61% controlled hogs when time and situational factors allowed, while 18% of respondents did not control feral hogs.  Those who controlled feral hogs used these methods:

  • shooting (87%)
  • trapping (75%)
  • trail-and-catch dogs (19%)
  • guard animals, hog-proof fences, electric fences, and aerial hunting (13%)

The average cost for feral hog control reported by 21% of the respondents was $2631 (+/- $461), while the average loss due to hog damage was $7515. This indicates that hog control is economically feasible.  The total cost for control methods reported by these respondents was $431,485.

 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.