After seeing many posts on social media such as ” You are so lucky to have so may hogs” and hearing of people hunting hogs that were “brought into the area”, I was completely blown away! LUCKY?! TRANSPORTING HOGS?! YOU’RE KIDDING ME RIGHT?!? So I figured a little education on hogs was in order.
Most Wild hogs originated from escaped free range domestic pigs that turned feral over time or European boars imported in for the hunt. They can weigh on average 150 up to 400 lbs and will live about 4-8 years. With a wide variety of habitats from marsh to timber land, they can thrive just about anywhere with access to water, cover, and food supply, but become very nomadic when food supply or human pressure changes. Originating in the southern and western parts of the US, they have spread into new territories because of both legal and illegal introductions into new territory as game animals. (NEVER TRANSPORT LIVE HOGS!!!) Also a very rapid reproduction also leads to invasion of new regions to support growing population. A sow can reach reproductive maturity after only 6 months, can have up to 10 piglets after a 115 day gestational period.
SO THEORETICALLY :
365 days a year÷115 day gestational period ≈ 3 litters a year
3 litters per year × 5.5 years (avg life span of 6 years minus maturation time)
≈ 16.5 litters over a lifetime
16.5 litters over their lifetime × average of 8 piglets per litter ≈ 132 piglets
All from a single sow!
Mature boars usually live a solitary life and the sows and their piglets will stay in groups called “sounders”. Even alone and in small sounders, their extremely destructive rooting and wallowing can demolish more than a football field size area in a matter hour a few hours. All those piggies cause major havoc on the agricultural and forestry industries causing over 1.5 BILLION dollars in damages annually (not including the damage to wildlife, person property damages, and destroying the sensitive wetlands we fight to conserve). .
They can totally push out other wildlife populations from a desirable habitat because of their aggressive nature and ability to eliminate food sources. The best part? They have no natural predator except for humans … and themselves. That’s right hogs are omnivores! So besides eating up crops, acorns, saplings, and just about anything else they come across, they also will eat other young and/or wounded hogs, turkey poults, fawns, turtles, fish, snakes, and other assorted small mammals and reptiles. They have even been known scavenge for diseased, wounded, or dead animals and have also known to attack and eat adult livestock. They will actually consume the entire carcass and not leave behind a shred of evidence.
Not only do hogs destroy property and consume livestock, they are a significant source of disease (usually without showing any physical sign). These diseases can be passed onto wildlife, livestock, humans and pets.
Brucelosis: A bacterial infection that is transmitted to animals and humans through infected tissues or fluids (specifically reproductive organs, tissues, and fluids). Symptoms: severe flu-like symptoms along with possibly crippling arthritis and/or meningitis.
Trichinosis: Microscopic intestinal round worm found in pork. To prevent infection be sure to cook meat thoroughly by allowing meats to reach an internal temperature of >170°F or by freezing at the meat 10°F for at least 10 days.
Leptosporosis: bacterial infection transferable to humans via infected tissue/fluid causing flu like or hepatitis like symptoms
Pseudorabis Virus (PRV): Not a type of rabies; Viral infection transferable to animals only which can be spread to livestock and pets through contact with infected tissue or contaminated clothing, footwear, equipment, etc. PRV attacks the central nervous system, common cause of death in mature hogs.
MORAL OF THAT STORY IS: ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES, WASH HANDS AND EQUIPMENT WITH SOAP AND HOT WATER, AND COOK MEAT THOROUGHLY!
While their keen sense of smell, wariness of humans, and aggressive nature make them an ideal challenging big game animal to hunt, they are not to be hunted as you would a trophy whitetail or elk. With all the negative aspects of the hogs presence, there is only one thing to do: reduce their numbers humanely and by any means possible (snaring, trapping, shooting, dog hunting, etc)! BIG OR SMALL–KILL THEM ALL!
Many states (Louisiana included) have made hog hunting a year round season and even have special designated times of the year where they can be hunted at night in effort to control the population. Even with constant efforts to reduce numbers, it is nearly impossible to totally eradicate them (see previous astounding number of piglets per sow).
So besides all of the negatives, there is one positive aspect of them: THEY ARE DELICIOUS! Besides the occasional extremely musky boar, wild pork tastes very similar to and can be prepared much in the same way as the store bought variety and can be just as tender. A great way to eliminate any “wild” taste the pork (or any big game) may have is to “bleed” the meat in an ice chest for up to a week, adding ice as needed and draining the water. Just be sure to take the proper precautions when cleaning and cooking to keep yourself safe from the previously mentioned bacteria/parasites.