Feral pigs run hog wild across the US

The feds and some states are fighting an exploding population that wreaks $1.5 billion in damage to crops and livestock each year.

By Bruce Kennedy Apr 30, 2013 7:32AM

Feral pigs, like these shown in 1999 in Stephensville, Texas, are becoming a nuisance across the country (© Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)Note to America's feral hogs: It's on. The feds and some state governments, fed up with your harming livestock, trashing crops and endangering humans, are out to get you.


The issue of feral swine -- some of them weighing in at 300 pounds and more -- tearing up crops has been a concern for years in many Southern states. It's also spawned some popular cable TV reality shows about folks who hunt wild hogs for fun and profit.


But it's not a matter of fun and games for the ag sector's bottom line. The New York Times says the wild pig population in the U.S. has exploded since the 1990s -- with "established populations" of about 6 million pigs in 38 states and swine sightings in nine more.


Feral hogs are to blame for more than $1.5 billion each year in agricultural damage. And the problem has become so serious, according to The Times, that the Department of Agriculture is requesting an additional $20 million in next year's budget -- targeted specifically at stopping the pigs.


Wild hogs are a far cry from the cute pigs you might see down at the petting farm, in both size and temperament. While some have ancestors that may have escaped from domestic captivity, others are descendants of Russian wild boars and other invasive species -- thought to have gotten away from game ranches or hunters who brought them in for sport. They also carry a variety of diseases.


And while most of the hogs are very shy, there have been numerous reports of them attacking people. In fact, according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension website, "U.S. newspapers report from five to seven human fatalities each year" from such encounters. That puts the hogs among some dangerous company: Shark attacks accounted for seven deaths worldwide in 2012, according to the University of Florida.


Damage caused by the estimated 2 million feral hogs in Texas alone costs about $52 million in agricultural losses annually. The Lone Star State has budgeted $7 million this year toward the problem.


Texas also allows year-round hunting, trapping and snaring of the wild hogs in an effort to control the population. Some guides even take tourists on nighttime "safaris," hunting the swine using night-vision goggles.


"For us it's just numbers," Jeb Dreher, co-owner of an operation called Tactical Hog Control, told KHOU-TV. "The more we harvest, or exterminate, whatever word you want to use, the better chances we have of keeping the numbers in check."


More on moneyNOW

Apr 30, 2013 12:20PM
Maybe they should be herding them closer to the border and feed them more and we can call that our new "border patrol"!
Apr 30, 2013 1:58PM
Why is it with all this "crap" about damage by the hogs that there isn't an open season? Texas complains but charges you more then the price of hogs to go shoot one. If you want them gone ..open up your land and people will hunt. Other wise quit bitchin. You can't have it both ways.
Apr 30, 2013 12:12PM
Well, I am from South Texas and the picture shown is not a feral hog, it is the face of a Javelina which are native to Texas. The feral hogs look more like a domestic hog and do not have the large teeth the Javelin has
Apr 30, 2013 12:35PM
While this is a significant problem, it would be nice if you used a picture of the problem animal.  The picture you used, while ferocious looking, is not a pig, wild or domestic.  It is a Javelina which is native to the new world and rarely gets larger than 60 pounds.
Apr 30, 2013 1:21PM
"someone" you are absolutely correct, these hogs are out of control on farms that own 10s of thousands of acres, you would probably be hard pressed to find many on public or blm land, as hunters with access keep these well in control, the problem lies in that these landowners will not just grant access to hunters for hog hunting, they see dollar signs usually at a price of 2-3 hundred for a guided hunt, offsets the crop loss. if the dept of ag would tell these guys that they will not get assistance unless they are proactive in their efforts to eradicate read" let people hunt for free and encourage it"  things would change rather quickley. and if the fda wouldnt be so **** about putting this food in food banks because they cant verify its handling, another problem solved.see the pattern? government and big business farms, money changes hands for nothing.

I am also from S. Texas. Every time, someone tells me these hogs are a problem, I think it is a joke.

In order to hunt the durn things, it cost hundreds of dollars, to step on someone's land, to hunt them. If a person wants to hunt a trophy whitetail, it can cost up to 10K, in TX.

Apr 30, 2013 12:09PM
Pelosi and Biden would make excellent hog hunters!  They could start in D.C.
Apr 30, 2013 10:33AM
Who knew Chris Christie and Michelle Obama could cause so much damage?
Apr 30, 2013 12:54PM
keep hunting the buggers,it will help with over population! they are really mean,they dont f**k around!
Apr 30, 2013 12:42PM
As to Mr Whiteside and Brown....Hogs are pretty smart animals...most game departments do not allow them to be hunted at night...so they adjust and become mostly nocturnal...and while some were brought in a hundred years ago for sport...when environmental science was undiscovered...most are the descendents of escaped domestic pigs.  There were some running around Ft. Riley KS a while back...no one let them loose for hunting purposes...but a tornado did tear up the farm they were on...and the wiley little guys took that opportunity not to become yours and my breakfast or dinner.

Even though I posted this to Alex's comments, I'd like to post as a separate comment:


Alex: the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 and signed into law by FDR puts an excise tax on all sales of Firearms and Ammunition. (Just think of all the money it has been collecting since Obama came into office. He being the best firearms salesman the world has ever seen.)

All money goes to the Secretary of the Interior and NOT the general fund (otherwise it would go to buy votes for Obama).

If a State has a project they want money for, they submit a proposal to the Secretary. If it is given the go ahead, the State does the work and pays for everything, then gets reimbursed 75% of the cost by the Feds. The other 25% comes out of the funds the states get for Hunting licenses, etc.

Sportsman are the reason most animals have come back from extinction as the Pittman-Robertson money has been applied to many different projects over the years. I read once where Aldo Leopold had said if you allow limited hunting of endangered species, you'd have all the money you would need for their restoration. If that is true, then he indeed was the "Father of Conservation".

Thank you Alex for your comments allowing us to set the record straight.

Apr 30, 2013 3:58PM
Let`s see here. Illegal immigration is a 42 billion dollar drain on our IRS department alone each year but we feed & house the illegal's. Wild hogs are a 1.2 billion dollar drain and we put a bounty on them. It is no wonder we have a failing economy. We have idiots running our government.
Apr 30, 2013 2:30PM
Oh my.  Can you imagine what a stink the PETA freaks will put up over this?  What about the little piggies rights?  Little piggies have feelings too ya know.  An then, what about the libs?  Hunt the little piggies with evil GUNS?????????  Ooooooohhh.  Obviously the little piggie problem cannot be solved.  In another country maybe, but surely not this one.
Apr 30, 2013 2:33PM
Another problem.  Since MSN was stupid enough to put up a picture of a Javelina, instead of a pig, humans, too stupid to know the difference, will probably extinct the Javelina instead of the problem little piggies.  If you are going to hunt these things, at least find out what they look like, and obviously not from MSN.
Apr 30, 2013 1:23PM
In south Louisiana two engineers have used drones to find them at night and then night vision goggles to finish the job. Awesome!  
Apr 30, 2013 1:33PM
Yep, impressive photo with the big fangs. Wonder how that beast would hold up against a 180 grain Nosler Partition from my .308?
Apr 30, 2013 1:26PM
Apr 30, 2013 12:43PM
here in michigan they are more of an urban legand, i know of no one who has ever seen one, i hear that there are a few  that got loose from a hunting  ranch north of detroit 
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