Swine Country

Discussion in 'The Natural World' started by nivek, Feb 8, 2020.

  1. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

    Ferel pigs are a huge problem here in North Carolina as well, they haven't quite reached my area yet but are within miles, the Yadkin river is where they stopped, south of me...They cannot cross that river but will eventually get across from our roads crossing the river...There are a few nearby that roam through here, I have seen one or two very rarely, so their numbers aren't big yet...


    Swine Country: How Feral Pigs Took Over the U.S.
    ...And how Texas is fighting back against nature's nightmare. With helicopters.

    For millions of years, as pigs snorted and snuffed their way across the planet, evolving and learning to dodge gray wolves and tigers and coyotes and alligators, they were almost assuredly safe from any potential threats from the sky.

    Then they arrived in Texas, where in addition to the rare predatory large mammal, a wild pig today might be forced to evade, for example, a cascade of 5.56-caliber bullets fired from a hundred-odd feet above by an AR‑15 semiautomatic rifle in the hands of some adventurous tourist from Pennsylvania or Mexico or Australia. Unfortunately for said pig, evolution has not yet blessed him with the neck flexibility needed to look up. Thus, he hears only the thundering roar of a helicopter before it all goes down. He’ll run around, searing bursts piercing the ground around him, until inevitably he’s struck, usually a number of times, left to die in a scrub of brush or a field of cotton or a row of cornstalks. The chopper will fly away, only to move on to some other unsuspecting, ground-focused pig.

    A lot of people in Texas would say this does not happen enough.

    Wild pigs—a catchall term, synonymous with “feral hogs” or “razorbacks,” that includes escaped domesticated swine and their descendants; wild boars; and crossbreeds between the two—are not typical pigs, or even typical wild animals. Compared with the pigs found on farms and in children’s books, they have thicker hides, leaner builds, longer and darker hair, and sometimes tusks. An average wild pig weighs around 150 pounds, but it’s not unusual to see triple that. As species go, they’re aggressively invasive and, crucially, prodigious, able to breed at less than 12 months old, producing an average of two five-to-six-pig litters every two years. World over, the wild pig population is estimated between seven and eight million, of which some 2.6 million could reasonably consider themselves Texans.

    Which wouldn’t be such a problem except that wild pigs don’t become a part of their environment so much as they rampage through it. They have incredible senses of smell, aggressively omnivorous appetites and athletic capabilities that leave them nearly impossible to control. They can scale five-feet-high fences or burrow through almost anything they can get their noses under. They wreck barriers, freeing livestock and other animals, to whom they may pass on any of dozens of diseases and parasites, or whose young they may settle on as meals. Feral hogs can disrupt entire ecosystems by competing with local wildlife for vegetation or by rooting out seedlings. Although they typically flee from and rarely bother humans (the 2019 death of a Texas woman in a hog attack was an outlier; Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes’s recent hog-related injury was tied to his trapping a pig), they still wreak havoc on any number of man’s pursuits, destroying historical sites, ripping up golf courses, contaminating water supplies. They decimate crops, devouring fields of corn, sugarcane, wheat, oats, melons, pumpkins and whatever else they find appetizing, typically leaving farmland too ravaged to reharvest. It’s not unheard of for a farmer to take a $70,000 hit overnight. In fact, the federal estimate of the total annual damage done by wild pigs is $1.5 billion. One USDA researcher has called them “the worst invasive species we’ll ever see.”

    Texas front lawn, post-pig intrusion

    All of which is to say: When one Arkansan last summer went viral by jumping into a Twitter debate about assault rifles and asking, essentially, But what do I do about feral hogs in my yard? he was posing a somewhat valid question, however ridiculous it may have seemed to the countless appalled commenters who jumped into the fray. Someday, though, they’ll understand, as this invasion is spreading. Wild pigs can live just about anywhere—in swamps and forests and brush, in climes warm and cold. Three decades ago they inhabited 20 U.S. states; that number has since doubled. And where they already were, now there are even more. Since the 1960s, California’s wild pig population, for example, has swelled from roughly 100 to some 300,000.

    Texas, though, is something else: Feral hogs can be found in 253 of 254 counties. And given their prolific breeding, at least two-thirds of that population—upward of 1.7 million pigs—must be killed each year simply to keep the count level. Current efforts, however, are estimated to accomplish less than half of that culling.

    “There are probably a dozen states, including Texas,” says Billy Higgin-botham, professor emeritus of Wildlife and Fisheries at Texas A&M, where “eradication is not even on the table.” The more realistic goal is merely a greater measure of control.

    (more on the link)

  2. pigfarmer

    pigfarmer tall, thin, irritable

    Jeez. I used to see ads for feral pig hunts with handguns. There would be a guide nearby with a slug stoked shotgun. Having customers stomped to death is bad for business.

    The author of a series I likes has commented on hunting the big pork on his land in Texas with 19th century muzzle loaders. This strikes me as extremely challenging and absolutely nuts - those things can be huge. He seems to know what he's doing, fortunately. He hasn't finished the series yet :)

    Yeah, well there you go. If 'assault rifle' means an AR style weapon I'd say bad idea for pork on the hoof. High speed light weight .223 caliber bullets will probably just piss off one of the big ones. If it means an older AK style .30 caliber rifle well, yeah that would probably do it with the high risk of over penetration.

    Go get the cheapest 12 gauge shotgun you can find and stoke it full of slugs. That's a recipe for instant sit-down sauce, but not as sexy as the other toys.

    I'd prefer a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range if I had to contend with things like this.

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