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Feral Pig Problems

The natural world has always been of terrific interest to me, especially when it comes to animals like the great horned owl.

Sus scrofa - Feral pigs in Texas

Sus scrofa: Feral pigs in Texas

Sus scrofa: Feral pigs in Texas

Feral Hogs All Over North America

All over the USA and now on up into Canada, farmers and ranchers of all stripes and types have a brand new nemesis, which isn't the slightest bit new at all, and is, of course, of our own design. Feral pigs, feral hogs, wild boars, razorbacks and any other names available, some surely including some four-letter adjectives, are used to describe these beasts. It would be helpful, I reckon, to describe what they actually are.

When we say an animal is feral, what that means is it is an animal that would otherwise be a domestic animal. With what we are now calling feral pigs, this is only mostly true. Why and how can something be 'mostly true?' What we are calling wild hogs or feral pigs are animals stretched out over the North American continent, and those animals are as often as not interbred with truly wild boar. So they are hybrid animals. I hope that explains why the term feral hog or feral pig is 'mostly true.'

Then, there is also the wild boar. Boars may or may not have been interbred with feral pigs are surely still out and about. Those animals are also going to be lumped in with the feral pigs as feral pigs.

Wild boar or feral pigs in the United Kingdom.

Wild boar or feral pigs in the United Kingdom.

Wild Pigs All Over England

The feral pig or wild hog problem is not a uniquely American problem. Basically, everywhere English is the primary language, there are feral pigs and feral pig problems. In the United Kingdom, it is perfectly legal to raise animals that would otherwise be called feral pigs.

It is also perfectly illegal to release any of them into the wild. Releasing your pigs into the wilds of the United Kingdom is also rather unprofitable. There are many established feral pig populations on the British Isles, and some are more dangerous than others as some are more used to the close quarters shared with humanity. There are various and sundry news reports of persons being chased from their campsites from the large and sometimes aggressive beasts; and one such story is where I fetched the image from above.

That is a big pig in the mud in Australia. Pigs love mud, everyone knows this, and this wallowing in the mud isn't just for domestic pigs.

That is a big pig in the mud in Australia. Pigs love mud, everyone knows this, and this wallowing in the mud isn't just for domestic pigs.

Feral Hogs Practically Own Australia

In the United States and Canada, we don't even truly know what a feral pig overpopulation is. If we truly wanted to know, we could always go visit a land down under. In Australia, there are an estimated 23 million wild boar or feral hogs or feral pigs, or whatever you wish to name them. 23 million wild pigs is just an estimate. There are probably more, as loads of the Australian continent is uninhabited by humans. Should the number 23 million be accurate, then that is roughly one feral pig for every single human in Australia. It is more likely that the pigs outnumber the humans.

Captain James Cook was the fella who brought these pigs to Australia. They certainly aren't native creatures to the place, then again, most of the Australians aren't native to the place either. Anyway, the idea Mr. Cook was using was that were he to release these pigs into the wild in Australia, then the settlers would always have something to hunt down and eat. You know how it goes, you find the familiar pork more attractive than kangaroo meat. Sadly, the feral pigs of Australia are as often as not far to worm-infested to be suitable food for humans.

The pigs? Oh they probably worship Captain Cook to this day. They found the place to be hog heaven. There weren't and there aren't any predators there to kill the pigs other than the saltwater crocodiles in the North of the continent, and the dingo who are only ever able to kill a young pig, or a sick or injured or elderly pig.

Feral pig in Ireland: Tis the luck o' the Irish.

Feral pig in Ireland: Tis the luck o' the Irish.

The Luck of the Irish Includes Feral Pig Problems

In Clare and Galway counties, the reintroduced feral hogs have been having the Irish curse their luck. The Irish government has named these porkers enemies of the state, a threat to the people, to business, and to all native species. It is speculated some rogue hunters brought in the pigs.

Somewhere between five thousand to fifteen hundred years ago the Sus scrofa, or wild pigs, of Ireland died out. A reintroduction means the pigs are no longer native species, but invasive ones. Ecosystems change, and not always for the better. Better for the pigs, yes! For the Irish? Nope.

A feral pig in New Zealand

A feral pig in New Zealand

New Zealand Is Wallowing in the Mire of Pig Population Troubles

There's a lot more to New Zealand than Peter Jackson films, and there are more invasive species of critters than just orcs, ents, hobbits, elves and dwarves. There are also the feral pigs, which may as well be orcs should you be a farmer or rancher in lovely, scenic New Zealand. Pig hunting in New Zealand is a necessity, not a sport. Now the wild boar or feral pig or whatnot ever you wish to call them - are a tad different there than they are in some other places. New Zealand had a native species of pig, and the invasive ones are now crossbred with those.

Still a problem, they are, and lets not even start on the Kunekune pig, there's lots of piggy genetics running wild all around the place. These wild pigs kill lambs, by the way; and lambs are much more valuable animals. You especially appreciate the value of lambs when you realize feral pigs have a negative value, which is less valuable than numero zero.

I suppose there is an upside to the feral pig problem in New Zealand. The upside only applies to licensed hunters who need to provide for themselves and their families. You can get paid for killing the feral pigs of New Zealand, just turn in recognizable snouts, and you get paid a pittance.

Feral hogs in Canada

Feral hogs in Canada

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Big Boar Are Everywhere in Canada

When I first started becoming aware of there even being a wild pig problem, I assumed the problem was local. By 'local' I mean northern and eastern Texas. Yeah, assuming things aren't smart, it is, however, rather natural. Feral pigs are a problem all over the English speaking world, and the rest of the world is hardly immune from these creatures either. They're a high intelligence animal, and you'd think they're highly edible. They would make for fine nutrition, of course, but they're rather prone to carrying untold numbers of parasites and diseases. They must be butchered properly, and cooked thoroughly. Cooking pork rare is never an option.

Canada is vast, and for the most part, underpopulated—if such is possible in an overpopulated world. The feral pigs can seemingly survive anywhere because they are true omnivores, just like humans are, and of course the term omnivore means 'can eat nearly anything.'

At the risk of mixing politics with a page about animals, the Canadians have endorsed 'progressivism' to such an extent it is near impossible to own a firearm. The Canadians are about to the point of accepting this invasive species, and adopting a 'deal with it' strategy. In other words, their farmers and ranchers are on the outright short end of the stick here, and their government has forgotten how important those people are to them. They'll learn.

A very big feral pig

A very big feral pig

We've Literally Got Legendary Feral Hogs in the South

When it comes to legendary creatures, Hogzilla is definitely one of note. That feral hogs will literally eat you is true, they are omnivores, That they get more dangerous the larger they grow is an obvious thing that also happens to be true. How big do they get? Well, is a thousand pounds large enough for you? The image above is NOT the pig who was posthumously named 'Hogzilla.' The image above is of another pig, this one killed by an eleven-year-old boy who was armed with a pistol, and if the weight of the animal was truly the one thousand and fifty one pounds claimed, then that animal was bigger than the famous Hogzilla.

As the feral pig population continues to grow further from control, you can bet there will be specimens found and killed who's weights are listed as larger and larger. How big these omnivorous creatures get is not the issue or the problem insofar as feral pigs go. So what is the problem? The mother pigs can conceive twice a year, and they often do just that - with litters numbering as many as six pigs per litter. That's twelve pigs per year for each fertile female.

The pigs are having a bad effect on the ecosystems wherever they live. Can you imagine how much a thousand-pound pig needs to eat every day in order to sustain itself?

Feral pig residential damage

Feral pig residential damage

Just What Is the Problem With All of These Feral Pigs, Wild Boars, or Whatever You Call Them?

I chose the image above as an illustration of the damage feral pigs cause specifically because the photo is of a modest residential yard. You can see from the image the area is a nice, residential neighborhood. There are other houses visible too, for Christ's sake. Can you imagine going outside in the middle of the night and being confronted by a group of wild omnivorous creatures potentially weighing in at over a thousand pounds? You could be eaten alive in your front yard. If those pigs will dig up the yard of someone's home in a residential neighborhood, then just imagine what they can do to the farmers' crops! These feral hogs are devastating to the produce produced by America's hardworking and underpaid farmers.

We all have to eat. If you are one of those mentally ill vegan types who values the lives of grasshoppers the same as your own mother's, then start eating the grass in your yard - the rest of us have to worry about the things sane people worry about. Protecting the agriculture of our nations is important. There is no capturing and relocating these feral pigs. Nobody wants them, they are overrunning both the flora and the fauna in the areas they are overpopulating, and the job of humanity is to take dominion over the Earth and also to protect it. These pigs are as much a threat to humanity for their threats to our agriculture as the overuse of fossil fuels. So, for persons who need a nice bit of a list, here you are, this is why they must be hunted and killed, reduced to a manageable number:

  • Tearing up farm and forest land as they root and wallow, destroying acres of agricultural land and crops in just a few days.
  • Carrying diseases transmittable to domestic pigs and humans, including swine brucellosis, pseudo-rabies, trichinosis and leptospirosis.
  • Competing with wildlife for food.
  • Fouling water supplies.
  • Feeding on fawns, ground-nesting birds and reptiles, and even young livestock.
  • Destroying wildlife habitat and sensitive natural areas
  • Contributing to erosion and water quality issues.
  • Serving as a highway hazard; swine eyes do not reflect in light at night.
  • Displaying aggressiveness toward humans with the potential to cause harm.
That is a wild pig attacking a leopard. These pigs are not chumps!

That is a wild pig attacking a leopard. These pigs are not chumps!

The purpose of the image above is to demonstrate that the wild pigs of this world aren't an animal that is going to run away when you walk out the door and holler at them. Now granted, they don't just up and approach humans much. The leopard, obviously, was in the process of attacking one to make a meal of it, and the boar was doing his pig's duty of defending himself and the other pigs of his crew. The real point of the thing is this—if that boar isn't the slightest bit afraid of an animal as powerful and awesome as is the leopard, then just think how silly you would look in the face of one's wrath.

If you live in rural areas where the wild boar are plentiful, and they are plentiful if you live in any rural area in the English speaking world, then you need a gun, a firearm, a rifle, a big shotgun, you need something. Yes, if you are a great shot with a compound bow or a crossbow, those would work, but it is far superior to have a gun. You know, those things designed for you to kill animals like boars or home invaders? Yes those, you need a gun.

This Wild Boar Supposedly Weighed 1800 Pounds. What Would Happen to Your Car if You Hit One Late at Night?

Killed in Conroe, Texas - everything is supposed to be bigger in Texas, you know.

Killed in Conroe, Texas - everything is supposed to be bigger in Texas, you know.

What Diseases Might These Feral Pigs Carry?

Feral hogs carry a laundry list of diseases. These diseases can be spread directly to your livestock, and that is yet another threat to farmers and ranchers. You hear about people complaining about vaccinated livestock? Yeah, there is a reason people vaccinate their livestock, maybe you never thought about it.

Anyway, pseudorabies, known as 'the mad itch' is carried in hogs as are swine brucellosis, tuberculosis, bubonic plague, tularemia, hog cholera, foot and mouth disease, and even anthrax. That is hardly all, there is also kidney worms, stomach worms, whipworms and roundworms—these are internal parasites. Then there are the liver flukes and trichinosis. External parasites? You betcha, dog ticks, fleas, and hog lice; and lots of them.

A rather ugly feral hog

A rather ugly feral hog

Can You Eat Feral Pig?

Of course you can eat feral pigs. Preparing pork is always something that must be done thoroughly. Often the problem is the pigs are too big, and in the South, the weather too warm for the person who shot the pig to get the meat cut and put on ice or in the freezer fast enough for it to be safe to cook in the first place.

There are solutions to this problem though. Hog traps will allow one to capture the hogs, and then ship them to slaughter. The meat is supposedly much more flavorful than typical farm-raised pork, as it is leaner, and the pigs having led an active lifestyle and eaten a very varied diet cause the meat to have very enhanced flavors. I found a nice read on why we should all be eating more feral pigs.

Whether you eat pork or not, there's a very serious need to handle up on the massive and growing feral pig population. We've ecosystems to worry about. It is our responsibility to maintain things.

So just how, exactly, did we come to have these exploding feral pig populations? It's not like we are lacking people with guns and hunting licenses in the United States. We've plenty of guns and plenty of hunters. The thing is these pigs are very very smart, they reproduce very very quickly, and you're not likely to kill one with your dog.

Surely coyotes can kill these feral pigs? Yeah, coyotes can kill a weak and slow piglet here and there. Coyotes are never large enough to take down an adult unless the animal is sick or injured. Cougars? Yes, the solitary cougar, or mountain lion can kill a wild boar, but there aren't that many cougars out there. The real reason we've got the pig problem is we've mostly eradicated all of the wolves. Wolf packs can keep the feral pig populations in check, it is only a matter of allowing the wolves to exist to begin with. The same farmers and ranchers so upset about livestock losses due to wolves, are the ones dealing with property damage from the feral pigs. You can't always bake your cake and get to eat it too. Thanks for reading, and I hope you go hog hunting soon.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Wesman Todd Shaw


Alastar Packer from North Carolina on February 15, 2016:

Thanks, Wes. Truth sure can be stranger than fiction...but not always as fun!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 15, 2016:

Alastar - that story sounds like something out of all these medieval fantasy stories I'm forever watching! Awesome!

Randy, my brother runs a bbq joint in Tyler, Texas - he gets state awards for the pork ribs served there. I've got two racks in the fridge, it's hawg heaven!

Thanks emge! The old timer men around my rural area absolutely love to complain about the wild pigs, and also to shoot them :)

Lady G! Florida may have it worse than Texas does. I've been reading about Florida's pig problems for years! :)

stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on February 14, 2016:

Wesman, another interesting article. We have plenty of Feral hogs in Florida. my husband use to shoot them, he says they are good eating as long as it's not a boar.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on February 13, 2016:

Another interesting hub. Great reading and info

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on February 13, 2016:

Alastar. it was sometimes used as a response to a query such as "Where's old Bill gone off to?"

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on February 13, 2016:

Never heard of that one Randy! But, like most old sayings...true!

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on February 13, 2016:

Wolf packs would do it alright. Researching the 1780 battle of Kings Mt, which isn't too far west of Charlotte NC, it seems the hundreds of slaughtered tories weren't buried too well by the victorious over-the-mountain-men. Anyway, the neighborhoods' wild hogs moved in to feast on the remains pretty fast and then the wolf packs moved in to feast on the pigs. Gruesome stuff but the wolves sure took care of the porkers.

Remember reading in one of your stories about Desoto and the pigs, Randy. Y'all got some bad ass Georgia "Tiger" dogs round about the Alapaha, or so I've heard. That's some cool info on where hogzilla was taken down and the boars defenses.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on February 13, 2016:

A large boar can cut a dog to ribbons with their tusks as well as a human's legs, for that matter. Ever heard the old expression "He went to take a s#it and the hawgs ate him"? Well, now you know how it came to be. LOL!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 13, 2016:

Thanks Randy! 00 buckshot, or a big caliber rifle?

Rich dude across the street has hundreds of acres behind him, and a big ass hog pen, which is baited with food, and he gets images sent to his cell phone so he can know when he wants to shut the gate...which he can do from his cell phone.

....then he calls someone to come pick the things up.

I'm hoping for wolf packs, myself :D

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on February 13, 2016:

Blame Desoto for introducing the first pigs--and reintroducing horses for that matter--into North America, Wesman. He reportedly had a herd of over 200 swine when he landed in Florida and forbade his men not to eat them as he was saving them for an emergency. Many escaped and found the southeastern swamps a veritable paradise for their offspring.

I live only a few miles from where Hogzilla was killed along the Alapaha River. A huge porker he was. About dogs handling feral/wild hogs, boars have very sharp tusks which they hone to a keen edge by rubbing them on tree roots. They also have a type of armor plate in the form of cartilage on their chest area so the tusks of rival males do less damage during mating tussles.

Turf and produce farms pay hunters to shoot these creatures. I'll wager no one can tell the difference in taste from a domesticated pig if prepared correctly. Enjoyed the read, Wesman! :)

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 13, 2016:

I am all for the coywolves. Most wolves and most coyotes - in studies, show some degree of interbreeding. It's been known for a while that the further North you go the more the coyotes are interbred with wolves.

Just once down here I saw an animal that was way too big to be a coyote, but there was a guy nearby who raised wolves, and so I figured one of his must have got out or something.

The whole dang problem is a result of there not being wolf packs, coyotes are way too small to take down a full grown boar.

I surely do love to hear them coyotes or coywolves or whatever they are when they are howling at night :)

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on February 13, 2016:

Have you heard about the coywolfs, Wes? Apparently an intelligent and wily cross between coyotes and wolves from Canada that is spreading southwards pretty quick. Wonder if these hybrids can reduce the feral hog prob in the U.S. any in the future?

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on February 13, 2016:

Are you saying I like Mondo Cane dear Paula!!!!? Oh no, just the facts ma'am.:)

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 13, 2016:

King Robert Baratheon, first of his name, king of the Andals and the First Men.....went boar hunting and was killed by a boar.

Then all of Westeros went to shit.

Thank the old gods and the new for firearms, Amen.

The Logician from then to now on on February 13, 2016:

Now I AM getting hungry! Yeah, where is my loin cloth? Oh yeah, I left it in the drier. Where is the hunting party?

Suzie from Carson City on February 13, 2016:

Wes.....Yes, pork is delicious. Believe it or not, you can get it all nicely cut clean and packaged FDA approved in any butcher shop or food market!

It's a new, civil concept. No need to wear your loin cloth & tote your spear into the wild and slay a wild hog! Or drag it into the Village of huts where your tribe lives!!!!

Suzie from Carson City on February 13, 2016:

Ha ha ha...(dogs & cats!)Very NOT funny," T." ...! Alastar...Thank you for making me even MORE disgusted......bashing heads in? Oh, what fun. Is that a sacred ceremony? Barf.

Why do men just love all this gruesome, ugly stuff? Never mind...don't answer that. Pls discuss something civil and nice.....not these horrid creatures & slaughtering them & eating them! If you guys are just trying to get rid of me......fat chance! Fatter than those wild hogs!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 13, 2016:

Sounds like a good time is had by all! I don't know why people sometimes don't eat pork, I love the stuff.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on February 13, 2016:

A great article here, Wes. The first supposed "shockumentary" was an exploitation flick from 1962 called Mondo Cane. It was about what was considered bizarre and weird human behavior back then and it unintentionally captured valuable documentary evidence . One part had some south sea islanders who once ever 5 years round up all their wild pigs, then after the proper ceremonies have been done, the headmen walk among the hundreds of ferals with logs and bash in their heads for a gigantic roast pork fest for the tribespeople. The knuckles and claws were reserved delicacies for the headmen, lavishly consumed.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 13, 2016:


~strikes John Goodman pose~

The Logician from then to now on on February 13, 2016:

I can relate to Paula's take. I have to admit I'll only eat good looking domesticated animals, cats and dogs among my favorite.

Suzie from Carson City on February 13, 2016:

Wesman! Just the thought makes my stomach turn! 2 of my sons are hunters much to my dismay. I have NEVER been able to eat wild game of any kind.....Can't stand the smell or taste of any of it. I don't care HOW it's prepared!

Venison.....Beleckkkkk! My son has tried to sneak deer meat on my plate, like I'm not going to immediately KNOW! Wild game has a very distinct odor and taste and all I know is I DON'T LIKE IT! Wild PIG (pork) can't be any different! Just the vision of those beastly things would keep me from eating the meat!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 13, 2016:

I'm told they taste quite good, Paula! Yum Yum!

Suzie from Carson City on February 13, 2016:

Wes.........YUK, disgusting! These PIGS are the ugliest, nastiest, most filthy, utterly horrendous creatures I've ever seen! It made me very upset to see that beastly bastard pig taking a chunk out of the beautiful cat!

I have never harmed an animal in my life!! These PIGS I could easily put down. They're totally grotesque!!....stomach-churning.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 13, 2016:

Thanks Suhail! They are everywhere! The wild pigs usually go about in big groups, so you'd need a pack of big dogs to run them off, I think!

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on February 12, 2016:

I have only run into wild boars back in my home country of Pakistan, where they are hunted because they are proliferating and cause much damage to agricultural crops.

As a proponent of keeping livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) for protecting both livestock and its predators, I am at a loss as to how LGDs would respond to threat from feral pigs.

Btw, nice informative article! I liked it!

The Logician from then to now on on February 12, 2016:

That is cool! Better than hunting them, right? Easy money!

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 12, 2016:

Usually that is the Earth removed to expand a tank....big hill like things around a tank.

That's me mum who'd commented up there. There is a big creek nearby called 'King's Creek,' and so we've got lots and lots of sometimes flooded out land around the miles and miles of creek, and the hogs are common.

We've also got a very wealthy neighbor who has a very large hog catching pen....he gets emails to his phone whenever the camera shows something entering the pen, and from his phone he can shut the drop gate, and call someone to come pick up the hogs and drop off the check :/

The Logician from then to now on on February 12, 2016:

What are tank dams?

Patricia on February 12, 2016:

Great read!

I hope folks are hunting wild hogs when I hear gunshots near our home! I know farmers who have had these interlopers tear up their pasture and tank dams! I'm told that several hours and men are required to repair the damages. I've also been told of men who use captured hogs to make sausage. Some say it tastes great.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 11, 2016:

Thanks Alicia! Oh I'd worry about the food bill for a pet one! Must be about like having a pet grizzly bear in some situations!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 11, 2016:

I think that domestic pigs are fascinating animals and I admire their intelligence. I'd love to have one as a pet. The hybrids that you've described are a completely different matter. I still admire their intelligence, but, as you've described so well, their increasing numbers and their effects on the environment are alarming. Thank you for raising awareness of the situation.

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on February 11, 2016:

Thanks Sir! I'd rather have them IN MAH BELLY! It is some flavorful pork. I've only ever had it once.

You're the king of the funny youtube vids!

The Logician from then to now on on February 11, 2016:

Man you are making me hungry for feral pork chops! But they're so cute and cuddly, who could shoot them? I bet they'd make as good a pet as my pet velociraptor. Do they shed?

Wes your hubs are better than watching Wild Kingdom and Marlin Perkins! Well now I've dated myself I'll go back to being bored,tubby and mild

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