Want evidence that wild hogs are tough on deer? Here you go.
The “Judas pig,” that’s the one you have to look out for.
Well, at least if you’re another wild hog, anyway.
Wildlife managers from around the country gathered in Myrtle Beach recently – in what is as surely a sign of the times as anything – for a conference on how to deal with wild hogs. They’re a huge and growing problem.
It’s estimated that there are five million wild hogs – also sometimes called feral swine – on the loose in America, spread over 39 states, including Pennsylvania. Some federal estimates put the damage they do to farm crops and wildlife and more than $1.5 billion annually.
They’re especially prevalent in the South. In Louisiana, for example, they’ve overtaken white-tailed deer as the most commonly killed big-game species.
In that state in 2015, hunters took 300,000 feral pigs, compared to 139,000 deer.
That’s indicative of the harm hogs can cause, wildlife officials there say.
“Research shows that deer and hogs do not mix and that deer can be displaced by hogs. Research has shown that deer detection rates can be up to 49 percent less where hogs occur. Hog populations affect deer numbers through direct competition for food resources and fawn predation,” reads the 2014 annual report put out by Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fish.
That last issue – fawn predation – got a lot of attention earlier this year via the above photo, from the LouisianaBowhunter.com Facebook page.
It’s not just deer, though. Hogs are suspected of harming small game species, too.
Researchers at Texas A&M are looking at how much damage the swine can do to bobwhite quail.
“Wild pigs are known to eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds, but whether they impact wild quail populations is unknown,” said Susan Cooper, a natural resource ecologist at Texas A&M, in a press release.
The Wild Pig Conference was convened to figure out ways to deal with the species. It was a first-of-its-kind attempt to get scientists, conservationists, sportsmen and others together to figure out a way to contain hogs and stop their spread.
On the agenda were discussions ranging from how to trap and kill hogs – that’s where the Judas hog theory comes in, using one too-curious-for-its-own-good hog to get others – to how to communicate to the public just what a threat they represent to other wildlife.
In the meantime, at least the American hog problem is different from that in Japan.
There, they’re dealing with an explosion of “nuclear” hogs.
According to various media reports, hogs have moved in and taken over in the Fukishima nuclear disaster zone that’s off limits to humans. The animals, contaminated with radiation, are “breeding like rabbits,” one Japanese newspaper reported.
There are said to be about 13,000 wild pigs in the 12-mile exclusion zone around the plant. That’s 330 percent more than before the 2011 accident.
The hogs have reportedly caused $12 million in damage.