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.
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."
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.
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.
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