Feral Hogs: Friend or Foe?

Wildlife Damage Management, Feral Hogs June 11, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Diverse Opinions

Whether feral hogs are a friend or foe is a matter of perspective.  Opinions vary widely, ranging from apathy to eradicating a pest species or to the thrill of hog hunting. 

Feral Hogs as Pests

Feral hogs are highly adaptable and have steadily advanced into new regions of North America.  They are considered opportunistic omnivores and feed primarily by rooting and grazing.  Soil disturbance from rooting and wallowing can be extensive.  Feral hogs are pests in many ways:

  • consumption of agriculture crops, livestock, and wildlife
  • competition with native wildlife for limited food sources
  • reduction of water quality in streams, ponds, and springs
  • alteration of natural plant communities resulting in infestations of invasive plant species
  • reduction of forest regeneration
  • increased risk of disease threats to humans and livestock

Feral hogs are highly prolific reproducers and their populations are difficult to control.  Landowners, farmers, and hunters affected by feral hogs can use several techniques to reduce problems. 

Hunting Feral Hogs for Fun and Profit

Many who hunt feral hogs are dedicated to their sport.  Hog hunters invest thousands of dollars on dogs, GPS equipment, ATVs, and other supplies.  Hog hunters are known to purchase and release wild boars for herd improvement or other reasons.  Some hunt trophy-sized boars, but hog hunters do not always harvest their quarry—the thrill is in the chase.  Hog hunters may capture and release feral hogs in other locations to increase hunting opportunity.  (Note that releasing hogs is illegal in many states.)  Conflicts arise when hunters trespass onto land in the course of a hog chase or purposefully release hogs causing property damage to surrounding landowners.

Some guide services offer feral hog hunts.  Adding feral hogs to a wildlife enterprise is not recommended because their numbers are difficult to control once released.  Feral hog activities can soon negatively impact the landscape causing income loss to other aspects of the business. 

Additional Resources for Hog Control

Managing Wild Pigs:  A Technical Guide (PDF) by The Berryman Institute;  The Feral Hog in Oklahoma (PDF) by The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation; Wild Pig Management (PDF) by Mississippi State University; Feral Hogs in Texas (PDF) by Texas Cooperative Extension - Wildlife Services;  The Feral Hog in Texas (PDF) by Texas Parks and Wildlife; Wild Pig Info (website) by Mississippi State University; Coping with Feral Hogs (website) by Texas AgriLife; Feral Hogs in Florida (PDF) by University of Florida Extension, Feral Pigs (website) by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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