Feral Pigs and Wild Boars

These animals have been in the news quite a bit lately especially in southern states where their numbers have exploded. Their range has now extended into Oregon and Washington as well. And this is one “invasive” species that does a lot of environmental damage and has potential to harm humans as well. I put the quotation marks around the word because like the vast majority of invasive species we humans caused the invasion to begin with. In the case of wild boars they were introduced into several southern states from Europe as game animals a couple of hundred years ago. Add to that domestic pigs that have escaped or been let loose over many years. These highly adaptable animals took to the invitation very well, thank you very much, and quickly established breeding populations – a fact which we are now coming to grips with in nearly every state in America. I have not yet encountered them here in the Northwest but I have seen them elsewhere. I ran into a pair in the Everglades so big that I first thought they were black bears. While stationed in Germany I witnessed a large population of them. Any soldier familiar with training areas over there has likely run into dozens of wild boar as well. In my case I was doing pushups out behind my vehicle one evening when a sow and her piglets trotted by just a few feet in front of me. I froze in the front leaning rest position and was thankfully ignored.

Here in the Northwest feral hogs have been listed as invasive species in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. At this point Oregon appears to have the worst problem with a population of several thousand. Sounds bad, and it is, but at least it is not the two to three million estimated to be running around Texas. So what’s the problem? The primary issue with feral hogs is their feeding behavior. They not only eat anything, they also root and tear up anything to get at it. Add to this an exceptionally strong sense of smell, high intelligence, and a prolific breeding and you have an animal ripping up the environment at a fast clip. Many states, to include Idaho and Oregon, have legalized, highly encouraged, hunting of them. The meat is edible but make absolutely sure it is well cooked – feral pigs carry a large number of diseases. Do your research first. Report any sightings to the Fish and Wildlife Department.

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