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Farmers Fight Feral Pigs

Farmers Fight Feral Pigs


Oklahoma farmers desperate to slow damaging population of wild hogs

Farmers in Oklahoma are gaining a firsthand understanding of the phrase "hog wild."

According to a local news report, feral pigs have become a serious problem for farmers in the rural areas of the state. Sightings of these hogs began around five years ago, and now sources say that their numbers are growing. The population of feral pigs in the area is now reported to be in the hundreds.

Dan Ripley of Ripley Farms is having particular trouble in disposing of the pigs, which cause severe damage to crops. Ripley says that of the many methods he has used to attempt to combat the growing numbers, among them hunting, trapping, and dogs, he has not found any to be widely effective.

The local wildlife department has even attempted to hunt the hogs aerially, shooting them from helicopters. Yet targeted containment methods like these are not working fast enough. Farmers say that the state government needs to enact large-scale measures to curb the spreading feral hog population.

The state house has passed a bill to allow farmers to attain a permit to hunt these hogs aerially on private land. The bill is slated to take effect on November 1st of this year.


The battle to control America’s ‘most destructive’ species: feral pigs

These “ecological zombies” will eat almost anything and can live almost anywhere.

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA A layer of frost clings to the grass on the morning Tony DeNicola sets out to check his trap. It’s late January in South Carolina. The sun is rising, the fog is lifting, and the frogs are croaking from somewhere in the dark loblolly pines. In a whisper, DeNicola explains what will happen.

“I wait for them to tire themselves out and then start tipping them over,” he says, shifting a loaded rifle from his shoulder and cautiously approaching a clearing in the forest beside a small cattle ranch.

DeNicola is a Yale-educated ecologist with the build of a wrestler, the jawline of a G.I. Joe, and a talent for making destructive species disappear. Most of the time, he runs a small nonprofit that does the dirty work of curtailing overabundant wildlife in national parks and quiet East Coast neighborhoods. But he came south from Connecticut to tackle America’s most destructive and seemingly unsolvable wildlife problem: the invasive feral hog.

Over centuries, this adaptable, omnivorous creature has rooted its way from Florida to Kansas, inundated Texas and California, and recently has been banging for entry at the northern border of Montana. Today, there are between six and nine million hogs running wild across at least 42 states and three territories. The exact number is difficult to pin down, and the estimated cost of the damage they cause—probably about $2.5 billion annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture—is likely an underestimate.

In their relentless march across the country, pigs plow through crops, tear up roads and infrastructure, spread disease, and elbow native species out of fragile marshes, riversides, grasslands, and forests. Many researchers consider them the most destructive invasive species on the planet. Stacked against other invasive species, DeNicola says, “Hogs are like a neutron bomb compared to a conventional bomb.”

Landowners, sport hunters, and wildlife managers have deployed all manner of technology and weaponry to keep feral hogs from wreaking havoc. Despite grenade launchers and airborne assault rifles, remote-controlled snares, and illegal poisons, the pig has persisted.

To DeNicola, their success is proof that the old ways of managing wildlife are out of step with the modern world. A professional who kills with icy efficiency in the name of conservation, he’s caught between animal rights activists who abhor the killing of any animal and recreational hunters who don’t want to lose a favorite quarry.

His trap is a novel design that ’ s so simple he can't believe it took 20 years for him to invent. “This trap is going to blow everything else away,” he says. “It would cost billions to hire people to manage hogs, but this model will help people manage it themselves.”

As he comes within earshot of the muddy clearing this chilly morning, there are no panicked squeals or agitated grunts. The bait corn is mostly gone, and there are hundreds of hoof prints frozen in the mud, but they belong only to deer.

He’s frustrated, but not flustered. He has spent more time studying hogs—their feeding, mating, social behavior, and the way different-size bullets pass through them—than he’d like to admit. He knows they’ll come.


Who Can Stop These Adorable Pigs?

This may seem like a ludicrous pitch for a doomsday blockbuster or a leftover gag from Babe: Pig in the City or an excuse to put even more bacon in our diet but the fact is, wild pigs have overrun the planet. To wit: Pig populations are nearing a million in the state of Florida, encroaching on urban areas and destroying an F-16 fighter plane in Jacksonville. Feral pigs are running (hog) wild in the streets of Berlin, with dedicated pig squads waging a losing battle to overtake them. They’ve become a fixture on the West Bank, after Israeli settlers, some say, released boars to destroy Palestinian croplands. There are even thousands of radioactive wild pigs wandering Europe, thanks to the tainted feeding grounds near Chernobyl.

“The biggest challenge is to get people to take this seriously,” says John Mayer of Savannah River National Laboratory, one of the world’s foremost wild pig authorities. “You start talking about this and people go ‘Come on, you’re kidding me, wild pigs?!’”

But the issue is as serious as swine flu, with a global explosion of wild pigs destroying natural ecosystems, spreading disease, causing a billion dollars in agricultural damage, and proving themselves nearly impossible to combat.

For those working in the field, educating farmers, foresters and land-owners on how to stave off pigs has become a cottage industry. At a standing-room only wild-pig management conference in December, Bronson Strickland, a coordinator of the Mississippi State University’s Center for Resolving Human-Wildlife Conflicts, was charged with educating the masses. Bald as a baby, with a soft Southern drawl and the righteous urgency of Al Gore, Strickland offered scant reassurance.

“We have a really, really big problem here, and we don’t have the answers,” Strickland called out to the restless, murmuring crowd. “We’re in for a fight.”

Berlin residents observe wild boars on one of the city's main thoroughfares.

Pig Bomb

The exploding pig population has different roots in different parts of the world, but in the United States, the porcine problem is a fairly recent phenomenon. European Wild Boars were introduced here between the mid-1800s and the early 1900s (opinions vary). Wild pigs then maintained a steady, static presence for decades.

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As wild pigs tear up up soybeans, rice and other crops in Louisiana, Cy Brown and James Palmer take to the sky with a pig-killing drone.

Mayer says all that changed in 1989, the year American sportsmen developed appetites for the wild pig. Scattered populations had long dotted the Southeast, but scofflaw hunters (one attendee at Strickland’s conference called them “dumb bubbas”) started trucking wild pigs all over the vast American countryside.

The 󈨔s also saw the emergence of commercial “fence shooting” operations. Nationwide, wild pigs were set loose in vast, fenced-in compounds, like fish in a barrel. Landowners would charge big bucks for hunters to shoot at the supposedly trapped beasts. But wild pigs soon started leaking through the fences, like velociraptors from Jurassic Park. As Strickland noted, echoing a Texas colleague, there is truth to the phrase “if a fence won’t hold water, it won’t hold a wild pig.”

Between fence escapes and illegal pig transport, the growth trajectory was sharp. Twenty-five years ago, spotty wild pig pockets were found in fewer than 20 different states. Now, they’re in 47 states, with Florida, Texas, and a few others approaching crisis levels.

In France and Germany, some researchers blame it on the introduction of farmed corn as biofuel – much less corn was grown there in the past – giving easy sustenance to the roving pig. In the West Bank, it’s been attributed to artificial introduction of wild pigs by Israeli settlers. In colder countries, global warming has been linked to increased pigs, as feral babies are more likely to survive milder winters.

But despite different causes, much of the world is suffering from similar effects. Mayer and his colleagues call it the “Pig Bomb.”

A domestic cow looks on as a wild boar family roams around on a farm in Berlin-Heiligensee, Germany.

Fallout

Wild pigs stick to one area until all food sources are tapped out. Their method of “rooting up” buried treasures (roots, acorns and the like) creates large swaths of cratered, barren terrain. The scorched earth is then abandoned in the hunt for another food source.

This voraciousness is problematic for many reasons – destruction of natural ecosystems, choking out native species – but none is more prevalent than decimated crops. Harvests of corn, rice, soybeans, and even cotton have been wiped out by roving boars. Of the approximate $1 billion in wild boar damage across the U.S. each year (a figure Strickland calls a “gross underestimate”), a majority is chalked up to agriculture.

How to Kill a Wild Pig

Pro: Pigs considered a “premium wild game” animal, plenty of eager sportsman to do the work
Cons: Difficult to kill, very inefficient, legalized hunting helped create current crisis
Effectiveness: Very Low

Pros: More effective than ground hunting, Ted Nugent-approved
Cons: Extremely expensive, smart pigs have learned to evade “pork choppers”
Effectiveness: Low

Pros: Humane, can catch multiple pigs in one fell swoop
Cons: Pigs catch on fast, still too inefficient for large- scale eradication
Effectiveness: Medium

Pros: Very efficient, effective on a large scale
Cons: Hard to guarantee pigs will be the only recipients, poisoning wildlife is unpopular
Effectiveness: High

Pros: Best hope at mass eradication, scientists developing contraception that won’t harm other fauna
Cons: Doesn’t exist yet, difficult to predict long-term effects on local ecosystems and food supply
Effectiveness: Very High

There’s also a disease element to consider. Wild pigs are known carriers of at least 45 different parasites, some obscure and some familiar. Remember the batch of California spinach that killed three people and sickened hundreds more? The federal government named wild pig droppings as a possible culprit. Salmonella, hoof-and-mouth, and other nightly-news panic inducers find easy transport in pigs.

It doesn’t help that wild pigs are one of those non-native species that happily reproduce without natural checks and balances. Females can breed up to twice yearly, often with litters of six to eight. Compare this to white-tailed deer – another mammal wearing the mantel of “nuisance wildlife” – that produce at most two or three fawns a year.

Out of each litter, four or five piglets will likely survive to adulthood. That’s a crucial age marker once a wild pig is full-grown, it is invulnerable to almost all forms of predators – angry alligators being one possible exception. This leaves adult boars largely free to do what they love – eating, and searching out new places to eat. They consume virtually anything (“opportunistic omnivores” is the official label), and can live virtually anywhere. At Strickland’s seminar, he showed a slide of wild-eyed boars cavorting everywhere from remote snowy woodlands to a sunny beach, with humans sunbathing in the distance. It could bear the caption “Next Up: Your Backyard.”

They’re gaining a half million acres per year in Mississippi. They’ve gone from zero presence in Michigan to 73 out of 83 counties (at last count). Nearly every day calls come in from previously pig-free terrain. Strickland, a man not prone to fits of high drama, has a dire assessment: “It’s all bad news.”

Hunting for a Fix

The scariest part of the pig tidal wave? The best minds in science and wildlife management can’t come up with a comprehensive solution.

Armchair observers love to offer up the obvious fix to the boar problem: increased hunting. Similar to overpopulated deer, why don’t we just make it wild pig season all the time?

If you shoot a wild pig, use a large caliber and know where to aim. A wounded wild pig isn’t something you want to wrangle with.

For one thing, pigs are much tougher targets than deer. Preternaturally smart (they’ve been called “dolphins of the land”) and fearful of humans, trying to get a bead on one can be an all-day affair. And if you do shoot a wild pig, you best use a high caliber and know where to aim. Their tough hides and thick skulls provide natural shielding that can be quite challenging to pierce. And a wounded wild pig isn’t something you want to wrangle with.

Outside the inherent difficulties with hunting, consider this counterintuitive thought: legalized hunting is tied to increased wild pig populations. As we’ve seen for the past two decades, hunting incentivizes the very behavior which caused the pig bomb.

Targeted hunting from helicopters – dubbed “pork choppers” in Texas – has proven more efficient, but it’s incredibly costly. And again, pigs have shown themselves to be quick studies Mayer said many will hit deep cover at the first sound of a chopper, not emerging until all danger has passed. (Hence the need for pig drones.)

At the Mississippi conference, Strickland encouraged landowners to set up traps on their property. Using carrion, grains, or overripe veggies as bait, trapping can eliminate more pigs than one-at-a-time rifle hunting.

The problem is, wild pigs are wary, and they learn fast. It typically takes a couple weeks of enticement just to lure new pigs in. And once they’re caught, their free brethren are unlikely to make the same mistakes.

And while traps may be more effective than hunting, they still can’t keep up with the population explosion. “We’re not going to shoot or trap our way out of this, that’s just not going to happen,” said Mayer. “Lethal removal just doesn’t take the numbers that you need to control the population.”

At this point, most wildlife scientists are resting their hopes on lethal toxins and/or contraception. Multiple labs across the U.S. are currently working on developing poisons and birth controls that could be distributed through bait. The trick, of course, is not to cause collateral damage to other fauna.

While it may be difficult to design 100 percent pig-specific chemicals, scientists may be able to devise a delivery system that only wild pigs can access. Still, what happens when a black bear eats a pig that was killed by toxins, or when a human eats a wild boar that ingested contraceptives?

“I’m not sure America has really warmed to poisoning our wildlife,” Mayer quips.

Looking Ahead

At the Mississippi event, the mood was uneasy. John Compton, whose family owns more than 1,000 acres in Clarke County, Mississippi, has wild pigs on “just about every acre” of his property. He had tried different kinds of traps, with little success on his way out of the conference, he purchased an antiquated-looking Hold-a-Hawg snare trap. “You gotta do something,” Compton said, shaking his head.

Strickland agrees, noting that nearly 75 percent of his job is dealing with wild pigs (he’s supposed to be a wildlife generalist). He fields calls from farmers with decimated crops, suburbanites with pigs in their backyards, golf courses with destroyed terrain.

In as little as 10 years, if wild pigs continue their exponential growth pattern, Strickland sees the potential for catastrophe on a grand scale. His best-case scenario would be holding populations at current levels. And even this goal requires eliminating 50 to 60 percent of existing wild pigs annually, from now until forever.

The only upside, perhaps, is the commerce spurred by wild pigs. Think of the secondary markets: there’s commercial trap makers, vendors of pig decoys and bottled urine (it lures them in), helicopter operations charging upwards of $1,000 to let you hunt pigs from above, and of course, all the restaurants and gourmet shops doing a brisk business in boar meat.

When told of the prices that wild boar meet can fetch at upscale urban restaurants, Strickland snickered. “I don’t think you would ever get it for that price in Mississippi,” he said,


These Little Piggies Could Eat You

If the 1995 movie “Babe” and its 1998 sequel, “Babe: Pig in the City,” served up an easy-to-digest picture of squeaky clean porcine precociousness, two new movies give us less palatable images. The sweet, good-natured pigs depicted in the children’s classic “Charlotte’s Web” and the “Babe” movies have become the flesh-eating swine of “Snatch” and “Hannibal.”

After seeing James Cromwell’s benign Arthur Hoggett in “Babe,” a pig-farming gangster might be hard to swallow, but in “Snatch,” Guy Ritchie’s roller-coaster ride through London’s underworld, it makes perfect sense. As kingpin Brick Top (Alan Ford) comments, “Beware of any man who keeps a pig farm.” According to Brick Top’s calculations, if you cut up a corpse into six pieces, 16 starved pigs can go through 200 pounds of meat in about eight minutes. “They will go through bone like butter,” he asserts.

“Snatch” only features some relatively benign overhead shots of swine in their pens as Brick Top walks through the barn. “Hannibal,” on the other hand, has ground-level shots of wild pigs chomping on humans. In Thomas Harris’ novel “Hannibal,” the pigs are hybrids resulting from a seven-year breeding program involving the giant forest pig. Press material said those used in the movie were 450-pound Russian boars bred in Canada. (“Pig,” “hog,” “boar” and “swine” refer roughly to the same kind of animal, although boar in the U.S. commonly means a wild version, especially one with tusks.)

In the book and in the movie, the swine are conditioned to tear at a dummy packed with raw meat when they hear human screams. Of the 15 porcine performers in “Hannibal,” three were trained to grab and toss, and were strong enough to flip a 250-pound stuntman six feet in the air, according to press materials.

Reality is less cute and cuddly than “Babe,” but usually less horrific than “Snatch” or “Hannibal.”

Pigs, wild and domesticated, are omnivores they eat meat and vegetables. Unlike dogs, they don’t run or hunt. But they are open to opportunity, and they are, like Dr. Lecter, cannibalistic. “They will eat about anything that’s in their pen. If one pig gets sick or dies, the others will eat it. Afterward, there might be a trace left--like a chunk of hide with the head attached,” according to Jerry Hackett, a veterinarian and coordinator of the animal health science program at Cal Poly Pomona.

Cannibalism isn’t unheard of among other animals. Under stressful conditions, many animals, including rats, chickens and even rabbits are known to cannibalize. But pig farmers generally trim the needle teeth that would later develop into tusks while the piglets are still nursing, in order to reduce cannibalism and fighting.

Hackett, who hasn’t seen either movie, said, “The gangster’s premise is not unreasonable, but the question is whether the pigs would consume the largest bones and the skull.” Hackett recalled that in pig-rearing parts of the United States, caretakers have been injured seriously or killed by pigs.

Dr. Edward Fonda, chairman of Cal Poly Pomona’s animal and veterinary sciences department, agreed, calling swine “eating machines.” Fonda who also had not caught either movie, said he didn’t think the hungry hogs would consume the femurs or the head. “Babe was presented as a meek little creature, very passive. It’s not very realistic,” Fonda said, adding that while hogs aren’t bloodthirsty, they are “very aggressive for food.”

“They are one of the most intelligent of farm animals they are curious about new smells and tastes,” he said. “Swine will chew on the students working with them. They [the swine] start out shy and start to chew on shoes, shoelaces and pants. They try biting if you don’t force them to leave you alone.”

And although both Dr. Lecter and pigs like truffles, the pigs are less choosy about what they eat--more gourmand than gourmet. Fonda said, “They are opportunistic scavengers. They prefer food that gives the least resistance. But they won’t track down something and kill it.”

As for the behavior of wild pigs, according to Carmi Penny, curator of mammals at the San Diego Zoo, “Wild boar will generally not attack people unless they are being molested or for other due cause. There are, however, numerous accounts of attacks on people, usually when the boar is cornered or in defense of a litter of piglets. Boar and domestic pigs should always be treated as potentially dangerous animals. Wild pigs are generally smaller and more agile than the domestic pig. They would also be more likely to have their tusks.”

Penny wouldn’t comment on the “Hannibal” scenario, but Hackett said, “I have no doubt that if a restrained person was put in a pen, invariably, inevitably, the pigs would start eating that person.” Fonda agreed that should the opportunity present itself, the pig might stuff itself with a little human flesh, particularly if it were stressed from a few days of starvation, as presented in both movies.

So next time you meet a porcine gaze, it’s probably not thinking, “A kind and steady heart can heal a sorry world.” In fact, you and the pig might be thinking the same thing: “Yum yum.”


When One Man’s Game Is Also a Marauding Pest

EAST LANSING, Mich. — At first he thought it was a deer, perhaps the big-antlered buck he had seen before and hoped to bag someday.

But the closer Steve Davenport got, the more unfamiliar the looming dark mass in the cornfield behind his house seemed.

At 15 feet, he saw the long, bristled snout. Then he saw the hoof.

“It just kept looking more and more like a pig,” he recalled. “I had never heard of anything like that. I was just kind of in shock.”

In southern states like Texas, backyard encounters with feral swine have become routine. The pigs — ill-tempered eating machines weighing 200 pounds or more — roam city streets, collide with cars, root up cemeteries and provide plot lines for reality TV shows like “Hog Hunters.”

But the pig wars are moving north. In Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania — states where not long ago the only pigs were of the “Charlotte’s Web” variety — state officials are scrambling to deal with an invasion of roaming behemoths that rototill fields, dig up lawns, decimate wetlands, kill livestock, spread diseases like pseudo-rabies and, occasionally, attack humans.

In 1990, fewer than two million wild pigs inhabited 20 states, according to John J. Mayer, the manager of the environmental science group at the Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken, S.C., who tracked the state populations. That number has now risen to six million, with sightings in 47 states and established populations in 38 — “a national explosion of pigs,” as Dr. Mayer put it.

The swine are thought to have spread largely after escaping from private shooting preserves and during illegal transport by hunters across state lines. Experts on invasive species estimate that they are responsible for more than $1.5 billion in annual agricultural damage alone, amounting in 2007 to $300 per pig. The Agriculture Department is so concerned that it has requested an additional $20 million in 2014 for its Wildlife Services program to address the issue.

There is wide agreement that the pigs are undesirable — like the Asian carp that is threatening to invade the Great Lakes, but far bigger, meaner and mounted on four legs. But efforts to eradicate or at least contain them have been hampered by the lack of a national policy to deal with invasive species as a whole, the slowness of states to recognize the problem and the bickering between agencies about who is responsible for dealing with them.

“As a nation, we have not thought through this invasive species problem, and we just have disaster after disaster after disaster,” said Patrick Rusz, the director of wildlife services at the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy. Dr. Rusz, who travels around the state educating farmers about the menace posed by the wild pigs and encouraging them to set traps on their land, is so avid a hog-hater that in the early stages of Michigan’s invasion, he went to bars to eavesdrop on hunters who might have spotted the porcine invaders.

At least in Michigan, Dr. Rusz said, the pigs appear to be winning — their numbers are estimated at 3,000 to 5,000 and growing. Wild pigs are virtual Houdinis, able to dig or climb over almost any barrier pig experts are fond of saying that “if a fence won’t hold water, it won’t hold a wild pig.”

Allowing hunters to shoot them in the wild all year round, as Michigan and other states do, is not in itself enough to limit the population, Dr. Rusz said. So trapping is an important component of wild pig control, as are bans on owning or breeding the animals.

But state bans like an invasive species order issued by Michigan in 2011, which prohibited ownership of Russian wild boar and other feral swine, have been opposed by shooting preserves and other businesses with a stake in keeping them.

“The conundrum is that you’ve got one of the world’s hundred worst invasive animals, and at the same time you’ve got a highly desirable game species,” Dr. Mayer said. “It’s a real Jekyll and Hyde type situation with wild pigs.”


Can anything stop the big pig invasion?

A feral pig looks similar to the domestic pig from which it has descended. Each year, these animals are blamed for causing large and amazingly costly damage in the United States alone.

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The call came one morning in the spring of 2013. The cemetery was a mess.

Charlotte Watson remembers it clearly. She works in the courts in New York City. She also runs an organization that protects a historic cemetery in rural Texas, where she grew up. Named Willow Wild, this cemetery sits on 36 hectares (90 acres) in Bonham. The site is about 130 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of Dallas. Someone in Bonham who regularly visited the cemetery was the first on the scene.

“Something terrible had happened,” Watson recalls — wild pigs!

They had barged in and uprooted wide patches of grass. It looked like someone had ripped out the grass and tilled the soil. No grave markers were knocked over, but “it looked really bad,” says Watson. “You couldn’t imagine [the grass] would grow back.”

For the next few weeks, wild pigs slept under the surrounding trees by day and slipped into the cemetery by night: They came to root in the soil for grubs. These thick white worms, which would grow up to become beetles, live several centimeters (a few inches) below the soil surface.

The invaders weren’t going to leave quickly on their own. Watson and her group had to face some tough questions about how to deal with these far-from-benign swine.

Texas is hardly alone in facing marauding pigs. These wild swine can be found in nearly every U.S. state. They’ve also been spotted in Canada, and many cross the border from Texas into Mexico. In the United States, they have become concentrated in southeastern states. They also wreak havoc in other countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia. In Germany, hordes of pigs dig up gardens in the suburbs of Berlin.

Wild pigs cause some $1.5 billion in damage every year in the United States, mostly to crops, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). They also pose a health hazard. Wild pigs carry at least 30 diseases and 37 parasites (organisms that live and feed on a living host). Some of these diseases and parasites can spread to other animals. They can also infect people who eat or breathe the germs. And when cornered, wild pigs can, though rarely, attack people. Last December, for instance, a feral pig attacked the German hunter who had shot it. The man would later die.

Wildlife biologists around the world want to understand these feral swine to halt the menace. They’re tracking the animals to understand their behavior and predict where they’ll go. Researchers are testing new traps, including some that send real-time video to smartphone apps.

Stopping the pigs is difficult, in part, because they’re canny. “They’re one of the smartest animals on the planet,” notes wildlife biologist Alan Leary. He works for the Missouri Department of Conservation in the state’s capital, Jefferson City. “We have to continually come up with new techniques to stay ahead of them,” he says.

Right now, the pigs are winning.

Swine invasion

They go by many names: wild pigs, wild hogs, feral swine, feral pigs and wild boars. But they’re all Sus scrofa, a pig species native to Europe, Asia and North Africa.

A group of wild pigs can devastate corn or soybean fields overnight. The swine can shred riverbanks and wreak havoc near cities, even in people’s yards. They destroy landscaping. The muddy mess they leave behind often looks like the crater from a bomb.

In the last few decades, the pig menace has worsened in the United States because the animals don’t have any natural predators. What’s more, people haven’t found an effective way to stop them. In the first week after the fastest highway in the United States opened — south of Austin, Texas — three cars collided with wild pigs. And then there was that F-16 fighter jet, back in 1988, that collided with feral pigs on a Florida runway. The pilot ejected to safety. His $16 million jet? Destroyed.

There’s a term to describe critters like wild pigs: invasive species. These organisms don’t cause problems in their natural habitats. But when people have introduced them into a new environment, either on purpose or by accident, they tend to cause problems. Sometimes big problems. Invading plants and animals can quickly gobble up available resources and make it harder for other species to thrive.

Invasives might outcompete native species, causing the natives to decline. Or the invasive species could damage crops and natural areas, such as woodlands. Invasive insects might kill trees, leaving a forest more likely to burn. One 2005 study estimated that invasive species cause $120 billion in U.S. damage each year.

Pigs are not native to North America. Spanish settlers who colonized Florida in the 16th century brought along swine. For the first couple hundred years, populations of these animals stayed small and contained. They rarely roamed beyond the Florida panhandle.

Then hunters became interested in wild pigs toward the end of the 20th century and everything changed.

“Their popularity spawned hundreds of commercial fenced operations of wild boar hunts,” says Jack Mayer. He’s a wildlife biologist at the Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken, S.C., and has been studying wild pigs for more than 40 years. Ranchers and farmers began to keep wild pigs for hunters. Alas, he says, the animals couldn’t be contained. “Virtually every state has some of those operations.” Now, he says, “At least one or more of those operations in each state is leaking pigs.”

And their wild populations have exploded in the past 20 years. Partly that’s because pigs can live anywhere, eat just about anything — from acorns to small animals — and reproduce quickly. They can adapt to almost any climate. Mayer says they’ve been spotted in 48 U.S. states (including Hawaii and Alaska). These wild swine have established populations in 36. For now, only Wyoming and Rhode Island appear to be free of feral pigs, says Mayer.

Leary, in Missouri, says people can be part of the problem. Maps show pig populations separated from each other by hundreds of kilometers (miles). The pigs probably didn’t hoof it all that way. People must have transported them. “We know that pigs don’t fly, and they had to get there somehow,” he says. Some people intentionally release wild pigs into an area to create a hunting ground, even though it’s illegal. Such actions give rise to new pig populations.

The problem isn’t going away. The Texas Department of Agriculture predicts that if nothing is done, the pig population in that state will triple within five years. A federal program, the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program, has been created to curb the invasive species’ expansion. Already, it estimates, the United States host some 5 million or 6 million feral pigs. And their numbers are growing.

Indeed, that growth shows no signs of slowing down, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of Applied Ecology. USDA researchers studied pig populations from 1992 to 2012. If they continue to spread at the same rate, it estimates that most counties across the United States will be plagued by wild pigs within 30 to 50 years.

Hunting — sometimes even from helicopters

Wild pigs can run as fast as 48 kilometers (30 miles) per hour and scamper over fences a meter (three feet) high. These swine can reproduce once or twice every year, and a typical litter includes five or six piglets. (Some people in the South even joke that “pigs are born pregnant.”) A single pig may grow to weigh hundreds of kilograms (pounds).

Scientists have a lot of information about the habits and behaviors of wild pigs, says Mark Smith. He’s a wildlife biologist at Auburn University in Alabama. “Everybody’s staring at the same science,” he says. “Our role is to get the best information out there, see it and make good judgments off good science.”

Explainer: What is a computer model?

Some scientists have run computer models of pig populations. Then they analyze what control tactics might prove most likely to bring those populations down. To completely rid an area of pigs, more than two-thirds of the animals have to be removed every year, those computer models suggest. And that removal rate would need to be continued year after year after year — until there were no more pigs.

How might that removal be accomplished? These are, after all, wily animals.

Some states have established hunting seasons. Others have brought in sharpshooters, or trained hunters. Others offer rewards for feral-pig carcasses. Texas passed a law in 2011 that allowed people to shoot the pigs from helicopters. Now some people pay thousands of dollars for the experience.

Beyond hunting

Smith doubts that hunting will ever solve the problem. Most hunters stop after they get one or two pigs. What’s more, some scientists have observed that pigs can learn from the hunts. They may adapt their behaviors to avoid hunters. Some might move away from sites where people prefer to hunt. Or the animals might eat at night, instead of by day. That could make them harder to find. Hunting and sharpshooting will likely only work for the last few pigs of a sounder. (Sounder is the name for a group of wild pigs.)

Leary says trapping offers the best chance of catching the most pigs. But the traps have to be smarter than the animals.

Pigs can climb, so the traps must be tall and not have sharp corners that can give a pig a hoofhold to climb out. And traps have to be able to catch all of the pigs in a sounder. If any get away, they’ll know enough to not return to this trap site. Then, unless they’re tracked down some other way, these pigs may colonize a new area.

Newer traps incorporate new technologies. Some include motion-sensor cameras that connect to smartphone apps. The cameras watch the trap, which looks like a big ring of tall metal fencing. There are one or two open gates to the enclosure. When pigs arrive, the camera alerts the landowner or ranger. Then, someone can watch the scene in real-time, from wherever they are. Once all the pigs have wandered into the fenced pen, the trapper can drop a gate through the app with a swipe of a finger.

It’s not cheap, though. A basic trap will cost a farmer hundreds of dollars. With the sensors, cameras and app, that cost can climb into the thousands.

Traps also won’t be able to get all the pigs, says Mayer. So scientists are looking at other approaches. Biologists in Alabama and Colorado are studying possible poisons. But there’s no guarantee that only a pig will consume it. Texas, for example, has black bears. They will eat almost anything that pigs eat. Livestock also might take the bait. Researchers will have to figure out how to poison wild pigs without harming bears or other animals.

At Auburn, Smith says veterinarians are also working on pig birth-control strategies. These are drugs or devices to prevent reproduction. Researchers have developed such drugs that work. But here’s the snag: Someone would have to inject it directly into each pig. And that isn’t practical for wild animals, which could be anywhere — and hiding.

Such efforts to get rid of pigs have the best chance of working where the animals are new, say experts. But the challenge of removing every pig, permanently, is daunting. So scientists want to focus their efforts on reducing pig populations and limiting the damage they cause.

Smith says the way to reduce and control the wild-pig problem will take a combination of methods. First, though, people have to be convinced that their moving and releasing pigs is a serious problem. Traps may then be useful to get most of the pigs. Birth control or poisons, if they don’t cause extensive harm, may help. And sharpshooters may be able to get the last few. “Those last pigs are where you’re spending all your money,” says Smith.

Charlotte Watson, at the cemetery in Texas, went through her own ordeal to get rid of the pigs. First, she hired someone to set up traps. “Ideally, the pigs run in there and they can’t get back out,” she says. Then a trapper would come and get the pigs. The cemetery would pay for every animal caught.

Except that it didn’t work.

“They didn’t pay any attention to the traps,” she says of the pigs. “Of course, hogs are very smart.” A few weeks later, though, the pigs moved to another neighborhood. They haven’t returned. Though Willow Wild may have been spared for now, there’s no guarantee the swine won’t be back wreaking havoc once more.

Correction: The text has been adapted to note that explorers and settlers did not carry pigs to North America until the 16th century.

Power Words

agriculture The growth of plants, animals or fungi for human needs, including food, fuel, chemicals and medicine.

app Short for application, or a computer program designed for a specific task.

beetle An order of insects known as Coleoptera, containing at least 350,000 different species. Adults tend to have hard and/or horn-like “forewings” which covers the wings used for flight.

behavior The way something, often a person or other organism, acts towards others, or conducts itself.

biology The study of living things. The scientists who study them are known as biologists.

boar A term for the male of some mammals, including pigs and bears.

climate The weather conditions that typically exist in one area, in general, or over a long period.

commercial (in research and economics) An adjective for something that is ready for sale or already being sold. Commercial goods are those caught or produced for others, and not solely for personal consumption.

computer model A program that runs on a computer that creates a model, or simulation, of a real-world feature, phenomenon or event.

crop (in agriculture) A type of plant grown intentionally grown and nurtured by farmers, such as corn, coffee or tomatoes. Or the term could apply to the part of the plant harvested and sold by farmers.

ecology A branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. A scientist who works in this field is called an ecologist.

environment The sum of all of the things that exist around some organism or the process and the condition those things create. Environment may refer to the weather and ecosystem in which some animal lives, or, perhaps, the temperature and humidity (or even the placement of components in some electronics system or product).

federal Of or related to a country’s national government (not to any state or local government within that nation). For instance, the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health are both agencies of the U.S. federal government.

feral Animals that were once domesticated but now run wild. Examples may include feral dogs, horses or pigs.

forest An area of land covered mostly with trees and other woody plants.

germ Any one-celled microorganism, such as a bacterium or fungal species, or a virus particle. Some germs cause disease. Others can promote the health of more complex organisms, including birds and mammals. The health effects of most germs, however, remain unknown.

habitat The area or natural environment in which an animal or plant normally lives, such as a desert, coral reef or freshwater lake. A habitat can be home to thousands of different species.

host (in biology and medicine) The organism (or environment) in which some other thing resides. Humans may be a temporary host for food-poisoning germs or other infective agents.

information (as opposed to data) Facts provided or trends learned about something or someone, often as a result of studying data.

invasive species (also known as aliens) A species that is found living, and often thriving, in an ecosystem other than the one in which it evolved. Some invasive species were deliberately introduced to an environment, such as a prized flower, tree or shrub. Some entered an environment unintentionally, such as a fungus whose spores traveled between continents on the winds. Still others may have escaped from a controlled environment, such as an aquarium or laboratory, and begun growing in the wild. What all of these so-called invasives have in common is that their populations are becoming established in a new environment, often in the absence of natural factors that would control their spread. Invasive species can be plants, animals or disease-causing pathogens. Many have the potential to cause harm to wildlife, people or to a region’s economy.

journal (in science) A publication in which scientists share their research findings with experts (and sometimes even the public). Some journals publish papers from all fields of science, technology, engineering and math, while others are specific to a single subject. The best journals are peer-reviewed: They send all submitted articles to outside experts to be read and critiqued. The goal, here, is to prevent the publication of mistakes, fraud or sloppy work.

livestock Animals raised for meat or dairy products, including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and geese.

native Associated with a particular location native plants and animals have been found in a particular location since recorded history began. These species also tend to have developed within a region, occurring there naturally (not because they were planted or moved there by people). Most are particularly well adapted to their environment.

organism Any living thing, from elephants and plants to bacteria and other types of single-celled life.

parasite An organism that gets benefits from another species, called a host, but doesn’t provide that host any benefits. Classic examples of parasites include ticks, fleas and tapeworms.

population (in biology) A group of individuals from the same species that lives in the same area.

predator (adjective: predatory) A creature that preys on other animals for most or all of its food.

risk The chance or mathematical likelihood that some bad thing might happen. For instance, exposure to radiation poses a risk of cancer. Or the hazard — or peril — itself. (For instance: Among cancer risks that the people faced were radiation and drinking water tainted with arsenic.)

sensor A device that picks up information on physical or chemical conditions — such as temperature, barometric pressure, salinity, humidity, pH, light intensity or radiation — and stores or broadcasts that information. Scientists and engineers often rely on sensors to inform them of conditions that may change over time or that exist far from where a researcher can measure them directly.

simulation (v. simulate) An analysis, often made using a computer, of some conditions, functions or appearance of a physical system. A computer program would do this by using mathematical operations that can describe the system and how it might change over time or in response to different anticipated situations.

smartphone A cell (or mobile) phone that can perform a host of functions, including search for information on the internet.

species A group of similar organisms capable of producing offspring that can survive and reproduce.

Texas The second largest state in the United States, located along the southern border with Mexico. It is about 1,270 kilometers (790 miles) long and covers an area of 696,000 square kilometers (268,581 square miles).

United Kingdom Land encompassing the four “countries” of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. More than 80 percent of the United Kingdom’s inhabitants live in England. Many people — including U.K. residents — argue whether the United Kingdom is a country or instead a confederation of four separate countries. The United Nations and most foreign governments treat the United Kingdom as a single nation.

veterinarian A doctor who studies or treats animals (not humans).


Feral Hogs

Of the 4 to 5 million feral hogs in the United States, an estimated 2.6 million call Texas home. Feral hogs can be found in 99% of Texas counties and cause an estimated $52 million in damages to Texas agricultural enterprises each year. Additionally, feral hogs are causing an increasing amount of damage to landscapes in suburban/urban areas across the state.

There are no registered toxicants or other products that can be legally used as poisons to control feral hogs in the United States. Legal population reduction techniques in Texas include shooting, trapping, snaring and the use of specially trained dogs. Best management practices suggest that trapping can be a highly effective technique, but ultimately, a strategic combination of multiple techniques will have the largest impact on feral hog populations within the state.

For more information, please visit: http://feralhogs.tamu.edu.

Watch the Wild Pig Management Video Series:


Q&A: Fighting the Feral Hog Problem

Darwin Hendrix lives in Antoine in Pike County and owns property in southwest Arkansas. He is a member of the 22-member Feral Hog Eradication Task Force appointed in 2017 to examine ways to control and eradicate the wild hogs which are roaming free and causing millions of dollars in damage to property and cropland. Hendrix has been trapping feral hogs for the past 10 years with some success and he recently discussed the issue with us and what he believes it will take to bring them under control.

Darwin Hendrix
Feral Hog Eradication Task Force

Q: Mr. Hendrix, describe the make-up of the task force. What is it&rsquos purpose?

A: The task force was formed in July, 2017. We have had nine meetings. It&rsquos multi-party with 17 state and non-government organizations. The members are farmers and ranchers, timber owners, representatives of the Game and Fish Commission and , NRCS. Agriculture secretary Wes Ward chairs the task force. The purpose of the task force is to increase public understanding, come up with some sound regulations and enforcement and increase resources to landowners to control the feral hog situation. We think there&rsquos been about $1.5 billion-plus damage in our country from feral hogs and the majority of that of course is to agriculture.

Q: What recommendations or regulations has the task force come up with?

A: That it should be illegal to transport and release live hogs in Arkansas. That&rsquos the number one key that I think we have accomplished. Hogs are being transported and released live. They also carry diseases like pseudorabies and swine flue and that just spreads the epidemic.

Q: I understand you have been successful trapping feral hogs over the past 10 years. What has been your method and how do you successfully trap them?

A: It&rsquos been an educational process. I started by myself trapping 10 year ago and was catching hogs four to five at a time. But I was in contact with a professional trapper, Scott Cagle, who has taught me a lot. I am paying him now as my technician to monitor the traps. We use cell phones and motion cameras to detect how many hogs are in the &ldquoSounder.&rdquo That&rsquos the large social group that they run in. We&rsquove been very successful in not dropping the gate until we have the complete sounder in the trap at one time. If any hogs are left outside the trap they will learn not to go in making it difficult to capture them all. They are very smart animals. The phone alerts you to movement in the trap and sometimes it&rsquos not hogs. It can be other animals but you have to be very patient and your phone can go off 15 times a night with alerts that may not be the full group of hogs. The sows are very smart, they can keep their pigs out of the trap. So it&rsquos a process. Sometimes we&rsquove had to wait two to three weeks before we drop the gate on a sounder. We&rsquove caught like 180 on my farm since the end of deer season.

A feral hog trap in Clay County.

Q: Will we ever be able to effectively control these hogs?

A: If we&rsquove got the proper people running the traps that know what they&rsquore doing, that are patient. I think we can come close to eliminating them.It&rsquos going to be a process, it&rsquos not going to happen in a year. But the technicians that are paid to run the traps are the key. The technician that knows what he&rsquos doing, that can decide where the bait site is, that&rsquos important. You just can&rsquot put the trap up anywhere. But it will be costly and not all landowners want to spend the money necessary.

Q: How costly will it be?

A: There&rsquos going to have to be some serious consideration to sources of funding because a technician is going to need to make a salary and will have to have a vehicle. He will need to have a 4-wheeler or side by side to get into the remote places where the traps need to be located. I can see it costing $80,000 to $100,000 per technician easily.

Q: I&rsquove read where the chemical or poison Kaput may be an effective control method. Is it being considered?

A: There are studies being done on poison and it&rsquos not been licensed yet anywhere to my knowledge. We must do extensive research to make sure we&rsquore not going to hurt other wildlife or humans. I think eventually it would have to be technicians using that. I don&rsquot think the average farmer or property owner should. It would have to be a licensed applicator to use that poison. If all else fails that may be a solution.

Q: Any final thoughts on why this is such a critical issue and what needs to be done?

A: 25 years ago we had no hogs in this area and I do believe they were brought in and turned loose. That&rsquos devastating because you&rsquore just starting them in a new area. It has been reported feral hogs have been sighted in every county in Arkansas. Studies say that you have to eliminate 70 percent of the hogs to keep the population from increasing. They reproduce quickly. If they have four to five to a litter and begin breeding before they are a year old and have two to three litters a year you can just imagine how much they would increase.

Funding is going to be key. Who pays for technicians? How is funding generated? Taxes? I don&rsquot think a voluntary system is going to work. Maybe an additional millage on property taxes which is probably going to be very unpopular. But something&rsquos going to have to be done.


Indian farmers fight against climate change using trees as a weapon

I n 19 years, Ramu Gaviti’s six acres of land have gone from barren, dry and sparsely vegetated to fertile, moist and thick with biomass. Peacocks, wild pigs and rabbits have reappeared and in rejuvenated rivers, boys trap fish in baskets.

Gaviti once scratched $29 (£23) worth of millet and grass per acre per year. In bad years he left his smallholding in Jawhar, in the hills to the north-east of Mumbai, and went to mine sand at the coast for construction. “Sometimes you feel as if you can go in the river and drown,” said the farmer, who has heard of 50 men who never returned. Now he has more than 1,000 fruit, nut and forest trees, paddy rice, a tractor, a brick house, and an income the equivalent of $1,200 (£975) a year.

Farmer Ramu Gaviti. Photograph: World Agroforestry Centre

Gaviti’s life has been transformed by a model of agroforestry pioneered by an Indian NGO. “If the organisation had not come, we would have had no guiding person,” he says. The NGO BAIF, who specialise in supporting climate-resilient agriculture, arrived in 1997 and worked closely with local people until 2004. “It was a wasteland virtually,” says agriculturalist Sudhir Wagle, who led the effort. “We began by suggesting 40-60 mango and cashew trees per acre and a boundary of indigenous trees. Including costs such as development of common water sources, we calculate that each acre cost us $130 [£105] a year to improve and that it took us and the farmers five years. But we saw families getting $225 [£180] per acre a year after five years and $670 [£545] per acre a year after ten.”

Gaviti and his fellow farmers are more than an economic success, however. They are a climate success too. Agriculture is the world’s second largest emitter of gases such as CO2 that cause climate change. But the villagers’ trees have been drawing carbon from the atmosphere for years. This represents one of the greatest hopes for India, which has committed to capture 2.5 to 3bn tonnes of carbon through new tree and forest cover by 2030, to deliver on the Paris accord.

“The vast majority of India is agricultural land,” says World Agroforestry Centre’s Dr Ravi Prabhu. “We can deliver from this landscape and help people at the same time. Agriculture finds no mention in the accord. The focus is forests. But agriculture accounts for 10-12% of emissions and 70% of biodiversity loss and fresh water use. We cannot afford to segregate or we will be left with islands of biodiversity surrounded by deserts.”

Turning agriculture into a carbon sink is not a dream. Scientists from the World Agroforestry Centre, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and elsewhere found that agricultural land can hold four times as much carbon as previously estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The US Environmental Protection Agency states that, while fossil fuel use is the primary source of CO2: “The way in which people use land is also an important source, especially when it involves deforestation.” Likewise, land can remove CO2 from the atmosphere through reforestation and improvement of soils.

Scaling up what Gaviti and the other villagers are doing could be one of India’s greatest hopes for delivering on its commitments to the Paris agreement on climate change. India’s government recognised the value of trees on farms in 2014 with the world’s first national agroforestry policy (pdf), which aims to help increase forest or tree cover to 33% from the present 21%. A key impetus was timber farm trees meet 65% of India’s demand. The policy could put India leagues ahead on climate change and save land from ruination: 50% of India’s land is degraded and 86% of the degraded land is agricultural, says World Resources Institute’s Dr Nitin Pandit.

Rakesh Sinha, joint secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, is in charge of rolling out the plan. “Trees have always been part and parcel of Indian agriculture but now we are considering paying farmers for ecological services from agroforestry.”

Back in Jawhar, Gaviti tends his trees, among the many fruits of which have also been a change in social status. “When I go to town, they don’t disrespect me for being a labourer“. Bowing his head and putting his hands together, he says: “They now say Namaskar.”

Cathy Watson is chief of programme development at the World Agroforestry Centre.


Michigan to Shutdown Small Family Pig Farms Turning Farmers into Felons that could face four years in prison.

A number of small family farms in rural Michigan may be shutdown by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), after they passed a new law that bans farmers from raising certain breeds of free range pigs.

The DNR issued a declaratory ruling that says any pig that displays certain characteristics (characteristics that almost all free range pigs show) be deemed a feral pig that must be destroyed. Anyone that refuses to kill their pigs will be effectively turned into a felon that could face major jail time.

Beginning April 1st 2012, Michigan’s “Invasive Species Order” (ISO) makes raising certain types of free range pigs a felony crime, punishable by up to four years in prison. The order allows the Michigan DNR to seize, and destroy the free range breeds without compensating the farmers whose pigs are killed. Remember, these are the same type of pigs that small family farmers have been successfully raising for decades in Michigan. In fact, the order is so broad that almost all pigs, with the exception of those raised in large commercial slaughterhouses, would be affected.

These farmers are now stuck with only two choices face the prospect of becoming a felon, or see their farm shutdown and their livelihood taken away.

42 Comments

And THESE are the FREE range pigs. That’s SO disturbing and should be criminal!

The precedence in this persecution is in our history. The corporations won out in a huge war against the interests in individual citizens. These people want all of America’s privately held resources for themselves. They want your savings accounts, your retirement accounts and your property. They want the individual citizen to labor as a slave to serve their interests. Why do you think that they want to take your fire arms? Your government is behind this “terrorism” claim that they use to justify knocking out the 2nd amendment with. A holocaust is coming to the USA.

No problem. Corporate farms will be the only legal farms.

You realize the problem with that statement yes? Just let big industry take over all huh is that it? So fuck it your cool with letting them take our most basic rights and freedoms and now our ability to provide for one self and your just cool with that?

Thhis is another in a growing succession of bureaucracy impeding the freedom and liberty of the citizens of the United States. These pigs do not even fit the definition of feral EXCEPT as it has been redefined by the Michigan DNR. An absolute travesty…and a misappropriation of authority and resources by the DNR.

If you knew what they were trying to do you would uinderstand this law… And if you understood it you would know it was very poorly writen. Free range is a broad term when feral is used that narrows it down quite a bit. An undomesticated or wild hog looks quite different than the ol porky your used to.long snout big cutter teeth up front and a terminator attitude. Catch one the guys alive or put the stick on one and you will understand that raising wild hogs is not only stupid it dangerous (they will eat you). Folks down here try to trap and feed them to make a hogzilla…it also sweetens up the meat a bit.

They need to show a picture of a russian or javelina not this old sow… Gives people the wrong impresson. If its illegal to raise tigers in MI I would understand because I would put a pack of hungry hogs against any tiger and put money on that they will be eaten kitty for dinner.

And to those who intend to raise them… Good luck building a fence that will contain them you will just be waisting feed… I have trapped and sold back the same boar to the same “wild game” ranch who are my neighbors 5 times before I finally just shot the sob… And then we ate him… He was pretty good.

How is a wild game ranch the same as a farm? I agree with the wild game ranch ban, but a farm ban is an over reach of power. There’s a hog farmer 2 miles from me, been there for decades, he ain’t never lost a pig.

you need to read the law because those pigs in the picture would be considered illegal under this law.

I think that is the point that this article is trying to make. The law, as written, is too vague to be legitimate. The issue being that the overly vague wording means that the law can be enforced according to the letter, rather than the spirit. This is quite commonly done when a business that is complying with a certain law’s vagueness reports another for suspicion of violation. Then the assets are seized, the company goes out of business trying to fight it, and is eventually exhonorated, but has no way of getting back the lost money of a bogus court battle. Also, keep in mind, the government chooses when the case gets heard, so the company is shut down, usually, for more than half a year, a death sentence for small business.

HogDoggin, if YOU knew what they were trying to do, you would understand what’s really going on here. Even if everything you said up there is 100% right, you misunderstand the real intent of this law.

Corporate factory farm executives who haven’t even set a foot in their own CAFOs for many years have finally lined the pockets of the right people well enough that it is close to illegal to raise pigs any OTHER way than THEIR way in Michigan.

If you can’t beat ’em, make ’em join you.

Any why make them join you? So that their “alternative, free range pork” product isn’t available in the stores. Because once people taste the difference, they’ll pay more for less.

Ok… I would like to see what their classifaction of feral characteristics are… You may be right. There’s a lot of differences from the pigs on a farm and the russians and javelinas we hunt. I am just saying I know what they can do. I have trapped, shot, stabbed, tied. And even shot from a helicopter thousands and they are breeding faster than we can kill them. However some domestics can be found in feral packs. Its hard to tell what’s going on with out reading it word for word. Like I said in my first post good intent poorly exicuted.

Well a domestic pig farm isn’t going to get most of these charactistics no matter if they are free range (which means abosolutley nothing except where the pig feeds). What they are trying to do is cut out feral genitic markers. But like most yankees they got preoccupied on the hair do and forgot about the 6 inch fangs coming out of their demonic looking snout. I would worry too much in I where raising pigs in MI, but hey I don’t care I making some coin trapping hogs and taking folks out on hunts in Tx.

The issue being that the law doesn’t require multiple characteristics, but can prosecute for even just one characteristic. So, get one hog that has any of these characteristics, even if they were recessive traits that haven’t been seen on your farm in generations, and you are now a felon.

DNR what a joke they have become, people have been bringing them in from the south and turning them loose in the woods, They will never stop it. So now they want to stop the small farmer from raising pigs for sale an food. Your fighting a battle you can,t win DNR.

Wouldn’t a hunting season on ACTUAL wild hogs make more sense?? There are many domestic hogs with black, brown and red hair. Read the “rules” they are following..http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/MDNR_DECLARATORY_RULING_2011-12-13_FINAL_371200_7.pdf

Ahhh haaa stand fast while I give this a gander… Will get back with you asap.

Actually If you encounter a wild Hog in Michigan while legally hunting anything, it is legal to shoot it anywhere in the state.

So I guess there is a ‘season’ for them any season there is!

After a review of the actual law all you would need is 3 identifiers (skull, ears, tail) which you can really get by with just the skull a true fatcat must have put in the rest. Like I said their heart was in the right place their head was not. Hogs are open season (hunt all year long with no bag limit in TX). Yall need something like this but not this. Otherwise they will be thick in yalls neck of the woods too. To the guy who wants a free range porkchop… If you could finish it you’d be a tougher man than me. They big one are fun to fight but not to eat.

There heart was not in the right place. If it was they wouldn’t have been working with the Michigan Pork Grower’s Association to shut down these small farms. Everyone knows exactly what this is! It’s the big guy scared of the small guy having the better product.

The fact is it’s much more than those 3 identifiers. And the law also allows them to add any identifier at anytime they want. If this was about stopping wild hogs they would be out hunting wild hogs not going after farmers and threatening them with 4 years in jail.

Ok farmboy let’s see who they get to inforce this. And if your crops ever got anhiltaed by feral hogs cause your neighbor is trying to raise them so people can spend money to hunt what I let people hunt for free Holler back at me. You may know a lot about the laws and government but YOU don’t know nothing about the feral hogs. You don’t want morons trying to raise ferals next to your property. There is absolutley know barrier known to man that could keep them out. And if you want to get real nasty just dump a russian boar over on the big guys farm… What isn’t killed will be pregnant with stock he can’t sell.

@hogdoggin If you actually read the law you would see this has nothing to do with Feral Hogs. I raise Hogs and if I lived in Michigan my hogs would be killed because of this DNR Law. They are killing FREE RANGE HOGS. If it was feral hogs they were after then they would not be going after the farmers that are raising free range pigs that have nothing to do with Feral Hogs.

I realize you probably work for the DNR or the Michigan Pork Association and are just trying to discredit anyone who speaks up, but you are WRONG and this law is WRONG. Many farmers will go broke or to jail because of it. THANK YOU MICHIGAN

Yeah after finally being able to watch the video I agree that they are after the wrong guys for the wrong reasons. This guy just has hybrids andyou look at their snout and they haven’t had to forage for several generations. Yea fuck them for trying to take a mans lively hood. I am truely sorry I argued for the law these fuckers made and I would like to apologize to the board for not having flash player on my bb. (Had to watch it when I get home) and sorry to you to farmboy. I feel like sending these bitches a skull of a real one so they can get the picture. With just reading the law I knew they where going a little extreme but seeing what they called feral they need to get their asses down here to experience some real feral hogs…

Michigan Muslims do not want pigs “free ranging” on property that they may want to own.

I don’t get it. The people that passed that law are free range pigs, so why would they do such a thing.

Just another example of corporations using money to influence our laws so they can control the market. Forcing hard working Americans out of jobs….I believe our government is more concerned with making payoffs rather than thinking of the good of the nation…

I swear america is turning into a communise country. We are not free to farm anymore.

This is a another great example of what happens to the little guy when big business and big government collaborate. I live in central Texas and have been on a few hog hunts around here and NONE of the hogs/pigs in the video exhibit the characteristics of the animals I’ve encountered. Creating a law that classifies these animals as feral based purely on physical features is insane. I would much rather capture a LIVE example of a true feral hog and have it delivered to the state capitol for their reference. It’s time we take our country back from corrupt politicians and greedy companies.

The government Is a big hurry to pass laws that will make every
One of us citizens a felon to take and strip all of our rights.
You want the truth that the prostitute media does not report.
Read, listen, know and start standing for what is our God given right.
FREEDOM.
SPREAD THE WORD

LOOK UP MICHIGAN RIGHT TO FARM ACT 93 OF 1981

Call and write your congressman and the governor. Let your voice be heard. Then organize and stand with the farmers when you can get a heads up that the DNR is coming. There is strength in numbers.

This can not be settled by voting or peaceful resistance. These gov. people are enemies of the State and the US Constitution. I time to consider tea party acts. I think this will have to be resolved fighting fire with fire KKK style – ski mask and gloves. Drag them out of their gov. homes in the middle of the night, strip them and their families naked, burn their houses and cars to the ground with petro, destroy house pets, and leave them blindfolded and naked in the street. Judge or enforcement alike. These gov. people are enemies of the citizens of the United States. This is not about food safety but corporations using the gov. enacted laws to take over our food supply and profit by removing all competition. Very very evil stuff. Eye for eye.

i live in Texas we have feral hogs no liscenc required if you own property. hunt all year round.it puts meat on the table. these mi farmers are raisng and perfecting a product. THey found a niche of consumers they cater to. gee sounds like an american enterprise. THEse are pigs . That are consumed one way or another. It seems that they are not raised in mass production and are treated more humane than the big coorperations are doing. they are sustainable on their land to make their farm work. If there is a law prohibiting buy and sale of these russian and the otehr breed these farmers are carrying THe law still needs to be changed.THis looks like an american enterprise from small buisnesses . American ingenuity and independence. thats what is being killed in the end.

This misrepresentation really concerns me. Raising “free-range” hogs is much different than raising pastured hogs.
A free range animal is released to feed off of the commonwealth, and thus takes vital natural resources from the people and environment. There are too many of us to do this anymore. Only some states even allow free ranging because of the costs. It has been illegal.
Pastured hogs are raised in a pasture owned by the farmer, which is perfectly acceptable and causes no extra cost to the rest of us, or harm our shared resources.
Pigs are a leading cause of environmental damage in this country, and some of these breeds really cannot be kept safely- most of these being russian boars or similar hogs. They definitely cannot be “free-ranged” without costing the rest of us a lot of clean up money later.

There are enough laws we should really complain about. The second they start telling people they cannot pasture their hogs on their own lands- then we should start getting our panties all twisted.

In addition, if you really want the bacon, most states will actually pay you a hefty bounty if you wanna go hunting and save them the left ear- The danged hogs are a serious problem, and they spread every month. All of these hogs are the offspring of “free-range” animals released by farmers.

Hogdoggin wrote:
“Well a domestic pig farm isn’t going to get most of these charactistics no matter if they are free range (which means abosolutley nothing except where the pig feeds).”

Free range means vastly more than “where the pig feeds.” To begin with it means that the hogs don’t spend their lives crammed together snout to ass with hundreds or thousands of other hogs constantly bathed in porcine shit, urine and pus in the small cages of factory farms. This in turn means that the hogs do not have be continually pumped full of copious quantities of antibiotics and hormones to keep them from being quickly wiped out by rampant bacterial infections. Nor are they subject to the frequent viral infections and the unhealthy RNA swapping those viral infections impose on animals required to live in egregiously overcrowded conditions.

Further free range conditions, at least as I am personally familiar with free range hog farming here in the South East USA assure that the hogs have considerably more diverse diets because of the various berries, nuts, roots, insects, foliage, grass seeds, etc. that grazing hogs scrounge for themselves. This more diverse diet along with vastly less loading of the hogs with synthetic chemicals means that free range hogs taste much better and are healthier to eat than are their poor factory farm cousins.

Don’t even get me started about the wonderful taste of yard hens vs. factory farmed chickens

Anyone can become a felon these days. The state and our Government hands out felonies like handing out candy to kids on holloween. They do this to have control over mass numbers of people and brain wash the rest of society that felons are not humans. Kind of like how Hitler brain washed Germany and made all Germans believe that Jews arent human and should be controled.

Also, felons can’t legally get or keep firearms. If they try, they can get up to 10 years (by the sentencing act they will almost certainly be sentenced to at least 15 months). They often can’t vote with

Disarm your opposition and disenfranchise them and then also benefit from the prejudice against felons that makes it hard for them to get jobs. And if they want to work for themselves that is illegal in many cases due to licensing laws. And 4 years or however long they get sentenced for their crime they are underfed, kept in cells 23 hours a day often and often raped or at least in fear of such

Take their guns, their money and their voice. Break their spirit and opposition and destroy their ties to the community. Makes it easy to stop them and eventually take their lives. Since the gov’t LOVES killing.


Watch the video: WILD HOG ACTION They Everywhere!