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We Can’t Barbecue Our Way Out: Why Feral Swine Management Requires a National Approach

Invasive feral swine have spread rapidly across the United States as a result of natural range expansion, illegal trapping and movement by people, and escapes from domestic swine operations and hunting preserves.

Invasive feral swine have spread rapidly across the United States as a result of natural range expansion, illegal trapping and movement by people, and escapes from domestic swine operations and hunting preserves.

Wild boar, razorback, feral hog, wild pig — these are just some of the names we attribute to one of the most destructive and formidable invasive species in the United States. Feral swine adapt to just about any habitat, have few natural enemies, and reproduce at high rates. As such, their population is growing rapidly nationwide. At 5 million animals and counting, feral swine are now found in at least 39 States and cause approximately $1.5 billion in damages and control costs each year. Their damage is diverse and includes destroying native habitats and crops, eating endangered species, and spreading disease. Natural resource managers, researchers and academics nationwide are grappling with how best to address the challenges of feral swine management.

Feral swine are hunted by the public in some States for recreational purposes; but hunting will not solve our country’s feral swine problems.

“Feral swine don’t know boundaries and what happens in one State affects neighboring States,” states APHIS’ new national feral swine initiative coordinator Dr. Dale Nolte. “Only through a concerted, comprehensive effort with the public and our State and Federal partners can we begin to turn the tide on feral swine expansion and reduce their negative impacts to our economy and environment.”

The USDA and it partners hope to accomplish just that. In 2014, APHIS Wildlife Services received $20 million from Congress to begin a collaborative, national feral swine management initiative with APHIS Veterinary Services and International Services, as well as numerous local, State, and Federal partners.  The goal of the initiative is to prevent the further spread of feral swine, as well as reduce their population, damage, and associated disease risks.  Though management efforts will occur in many different locations and habitats throughout the United States, these actions will be modified and adapted to best meet the needs and objectives of each State.  The initiative will be highlighted at the 2014 International Wild Pig Conference in Montgomery, Alabama, on April 14-16. For more information, please visit the APHIS feral swine web page.

April is Invasive Plant, Pest, and Disease Awareness Month.  Learn more about APHIS Wildlife Services activities related to invasive wildlife.

15 Responses to “We Can’t Barbecue Our Way Out: Why Feral Swine Management Requires a National Approach”

  1. Kate Campbell says:

    Perhaps the logic used here to outline problems with feral swine could be used to address problems with non-native, invasive feral-equine species.

  2. Dale Hart says:

    Figuring 5 million pigs and $20 million from Congress that’s only $4 per hog which is an insult to anyone truly concerned about this problem. Each pig is claimed to do $300 in crop damage so get serious; time for bounties which are meaningful. Texas now is paying $5 a hog which is not enough; I was getting $4 a fox 5 decades ago. Make it open season year round, $5 for every sow-hog and $20 for every boar-hog. Get rid of the breeder boars and you’ll make a difference

  3. julie pear says:

    to kate cammpbell…why do you consider a few thousand horses equivalent to feral hogs? there is an extreme difference in damage caused between the two species. leave the equines alone!!

  4. bill bobs says:

    We did it to passenger pigeons. We almost did it to all sorts of geese, ducks, other waterfowl. It was called “market hunting”. The species I mentioned above were used food…not for sport. Bounty hunting means leaving the meat and keeping an ear. Too wasteful. We have an opportunity to feed lots of people here across many states and it can be done safely with food security. The same thing could be said for the thousands of deer laying on the interstate highways. But we can’t say it, because those are game species. Feral swine aren’t. We know their destructive nature. We are supposed to be good stewards of the land; lets show some of it.

  5. Eric says:

    Feral horses will spread the same way in just a few years. The carbon foot print and the conservation damage feral horses are doing to states in the west is similar to what these feral hogs are doing now. An invasive species is just that, an invasive species, and you either take care of the problem or it becomes so large it will overwhelm all other animal life and plant life. Mr. Ed and Miss. Piggy hold a special place in many hearts but once they become a menace to society we have to be responsible.

  6. bigspruce says:

    Bounties don’t work. With all that money being allocated they should come up with some type of immunocontraception. There should DEFINITELY be a plan for meat distribution for the needy.

  7. E T says:

    Great point Kate. We need more people to get educated as to how much damage exotic feral horses do, and how many there are (35,000 plus) and how many are in holding facilities and other places (50,000 plus).

    Then again how does that compare to the Eurasian sheep and cattle?

  8. woodchuck says:

    Man is the biggest destroyer, stop all the lies, get rid of that killing agency, Wildlife Services, demand no gmo, no grazing on public lands, no hunting in our refuges.

    The natural world is better off without the so called “management” lies.

  9. Karl van der Hosen says:

    Aphis is great at Justifying its existing budget & wasting natural resources. Are Feral hog numbers inflated? Cry wolf, APHIS! Get more taxpayer money.

  10. Budman1950 says:

    I think the government should offer some type of tax credit toward the purchase of thermal sights for the use in reducing the number of feral hogs in the US. Thermal sights are probably the most effective method after helicopters to controlling the number of feral hogs.

  11. RR says:

    This product has worked well for me.

  12. S Walker says:

    Open season year around no charge for tag and the meat donated to shelters and senior centers and food banks

  13. Karen says:

    The title of the blog, “Barbecue our way out”, is insulting and beneath the dignity of a taxpayer funded federal employee. I don’t eat animals and I’m disgusted with the implication of barbecuing a pig. Bring some professionalism and dignity to your blog posts. USDA is disgusting.

  14. Karen D says:

    ‘We can’t barbecue our way out’ is really offensive. We ARE talking about killing these animals and even feral pigs have families, feelings, and the intelligence of a toddler. Suggest you consider a more sensitive title next time.

  15. Mark Forrester says:

    I don’t see feral hogs lying on the interstate like all the dead dear. Maybe we should concentrate on the deer and all the damage they do first.

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