On the fence about, or new to the possibility of a hog hunt? If you’re unsure as to why you should consider a pig purge, keep this in mind as you read: While I used some of the most recent data I could find, some of it is a few years old...meaning these figures have probably grown. That said, here are six reasons why you should consider feral pigs as prey...not pets.
6. They’re Not as Cute as Popular Culture Depicts
Wild pigs aren’t the sweet little house pets that domestic pigs can be. Feral hogs are plaguing many states, mainly in the southern part of the country. And while many people see pigs as “cute," the pigs we see on TV and online are much more docile, mild-mannered and mellow than their feral counterparts. These are two different kinds of pigs. Feral hogs, the kind of pigs that I’m suggesting you hunt, are aggressive, ill-tempered and destructive (I’ll get to that in a minute). Chances are, what you see on social media are the kinds of pigs that are thoroughly domesticated and can make good pets. So if you’re hesitant about hunting hogs because of the common misconception that the wild pigs are identical to the tame ones, don’t be. It’s kind of like the difference between dogs and wolves. Yeah, they’re similar, but behavior-wise, they’re a completely different animal.
5. They’re Destructive
Ask anyone who has lived around feral pigs, and I can almost promise one word they’ll toss out to describe the animal is “destructive.” Texas, for example, is spending major tax dollars to mitigate the damage wild hogs are doing. And I’m not talking to the tune of hundreds of thousands; I’m talking the multi-million dollar range. In Texas alone, the Texas Department of Agriculture has estimated that they spend roughly $52 million dollars a year on damage done across the state from their pig problem. In a university study, that number pales in comparison to the overall damage done by feral pigs across the country, estimated at 1.5 billion (that’s right, billion with a “B”) dollars. This total includes damage to roads, crops and domestic and native wild animals. There’s a reason a hog’s tusks are termed “cutters": They cut everything they touch, including the environment.
4. Their Reproduction is Out of Control
The phrase “breeding like rabbits” is an understatement for feral hogs. Population management has turned to hunting, even using unconventional – but definitely more exciting – methods like helicopter hunts in hopes of gaining the upper hand on hog numbers. It’s estimated that Texas has 2.6 million pigs. Florida has roughly 500,000. Between those two states alone, that’s a substantial population of over 3 million pigs...and counting. According to Florida’s Division of Hunting and Game Management, a pig can start breeding at 1 year old and live to be 4 to 5 on average while being able to have two litters a year consisting of 1 to 13 piglets. So the hog population will continue to grow exponentially, bringing dizzying growth to the already alarming figures.
3. They’re Invasive
Feral hogs, while abundant, weren’t always that way, considering they weren’t even here to begin with. An invasive species, wild hogs were brought over by European settlers starting in the late Fifteenth Century to Florida, and have steadily spread throughout the south ever since. What's the problem? Well, there wouldn’t be one if they were the only animal in the region. But considering the pigs' destructive and aggressive nature, other native animals like deer, turkeys and squirrels are forced into competition with the them. While there isn’t enough research to say the pigs are winning, there’s no denying they’ve made a negative impact. Not only have they encroached upon other animals’ natural habitat, they’re outright ruining that habitat, as well as actually doing harm to other creatures that call hog-infested areas home. Furthermore, the hogs continuing to move in on new territory, and animals that use that land are suffering. According to Florida’s Division of Hunting and Game Management, because feral pigs are opportunistic and omnivorous, they're consuming the eggs of various birds and turtles, even preying on chickens and other livestock.
2. They Carry Disease
Pigs harbor ticks, fleas, lice and other parasites, and also carry a slew of diseases that can easily spread to both animals and people. The list includes cholera, tuberculosis, anthrax and several other illnesses I can’t pronounce or tell you what they do. Point is, pigs are walking petri dishes, and by hunting them, you can potentially save the lives and health of human beings and animals in the process. Hog hunters should take precautions, but that’s not to say that the meat of wild pigs isn't perfectly edible. Just treat the animal as you would any other game animal and cook the meat thoroughly. In fact, a healthy wild hog can be turned into everyone’s favorite breakfast...
C’mon. Did anyone really think the number one entry on this list would be anything other than “bacon”? This one is a given. And to literally bring home the bacon? What else could you ask for?! Bacon is a popular commodity, but not everyone is a fan for whatever reason. To each their own. Still, there are other things that can be done with the meat. Ham or porkchops, anyone?
If you're interested in helping to preserve your local biosphere while filling your freezer, you might want to consider hunting your state's feral hogs...even if you're on the fence. (As always, be sure to check your local laws before heading out!)