Landscape & Garden Editor Kevin Johnson Introduces Us to One of the Top 12 Invasive Species of Russian Wild Boar in the U.S.
Years ago when I was serving as Grounds Supervisor at Young Harris College, I encountered something that excited several members of my crew. We were driving along a road on the backside of campus which buts up to the woods– and there they were– a mother sow and three piglets. These weren’t pigs that had escaped from a nearby farm they were wild pigs. My crew members saw a golden opportunity for hunting right before their eyes.
Feral pigs, or razorbacks in the U.S. were first established in the 1500s, when colonists brought over wild and domesticated pigs for food. Some wandered off and spawned small feral populations. The Eurasian wild boar, or Russian wild boar, Sus scrofa, was introduced to the United States in the 19th century for hunting. Today, wild invasive pigs consist of a combination of feral pigs, pure wild boars and hybrids of the two. They have several names: Russian or Eurasian wild boar, wild hog, feral pig, or feral boar– and they are a big problem.
Wild boar exhibit a wide variety of coloration and markings with males weighing up to 440 lbs. and females up to 330 lbs. Females give birth to 5-6 piglets per liter and depending on access to food, can have 2 litters per year. Both males and females have tusks, with the male’s tusks growing long and sharp. While they prefer to avoid humans, in the right (or wrong? situation)they can be aggressive and dangerous.
The Dept. of Agriculture estimates there are currently over 5 million wild boars in the U.S. and are established in 47 states– with massive populations in Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, and a growing one in Virginia. The recent population boom, state game officials and biologists say, is largely the fault of hunters who imported wild pigs to hunt year round, and now they have become one of the top 12 most invasive animals in the United States.
Due to the growing population, an estimated 1.5 billion a year is spent to repair and prevent damage caused by this invasive species. They eat crops, acorns, roots, small herbaceous plants, eggs of ground nesting birds, bulbs, and etc. Ravaging ecosystems around ponds, creeks, and rivers, they pose a threat to several endangered species. Feral hogs transmit diseases and parasites to livestock, wild animals and humans. Pseudorabies Virus (PRV), Swine brucellosis (Brucella suis) and Bovine tuberculosis (TB) are a few diseases that are danger to other animals, while Leptospirosis, Brucellosis, E. coli, Rabies and Swine Influenza viruses (among others) can be contracted by humans.
Over the course of several years, while working in the woods treating hemlocks for Woolly Adelgid, I’ve encountered these animals and the damage they have done. I can always tell when wild hogs have been there because they virtually strip the land of small trees and plant material, at the same time causing extensive damage while rooting for food. Wild boars are incredibly smart and difficult to control once they are established. Your best option to eradicate them is by trapping or hunting which isn’t easy to do. If you are having problems with these beasts check out georgiawildpigs.com. Good luck!
Editor’s Note: AC Living Mag’s Maxine– a Jagdterrier, or German Hunting Terrier– was originally bred as a farm varmint hunter. But as you can see in the upper right corner of the painting above– they were also used to hunt wild boar. Today, Jagterrier’s in the US are bred specifically to bay boar. Lucky for me, Maxine failed at this task!
Kevin Johnson is the owner of Green Leaf Lawn and Ornamental, LLC, based in Blue Ridge. For more information about the devastating hemlock woolly adelgid and treatment options, Kevin can be reached toll free at 866. 883. 2420 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his web site at www.wetreatlawns.com or visit www.hemlocks.org for more info.