Feral Hogs: Why They’re a Problem and The Only Way to Solve It

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I recently wrote an article about animal invasion, and many, many of you pointed out the problem of feral hogs in the comments (yes, we read the comments), which I left out from the original article.

One reader was kind enough to reach out to me and provide a recent report on the damage they cause, so I decided to dig deeper into this feral hog conundrum.

Feral hogs are actually one of the biggest animal threats to…everything, really. Not only do they present a danger to crops, flora and fauna, people, and the economy, but they’re causing damage to all those aspects of life right now as you’re reading this sentence.

How does it happen, though, and what can you do to protect yourself and your property? Those are the questions I’ll be answering today.

Why are feral hogs a problem?

Feral hogs are omnivorous, opportunistic animals, and it’s presumed that every single state has at least one large group of feral pigs at this point. Some states have millions of hogs, which make up thousands of groups.

Their natural territory was nominally everything north of the 36th parallel (draw a straight line from southern California to the Florida-Georgia border), but they went far beyond that line, as they’re currently found in southern Canada as well.

The State with the fewest feral hogs? Idaho, apparently. The State with the most feral hogs? Texas! There are about 3 million feral pigs in Texas, according to a 2016 study, and Texans are having a lot of trouble dealing with them.

The American South is generally having it worse than the North, as every single state is now facing unmanageable numbers of feral hogs.

From 1982 to 2016, feral hogs have spread from 18 to 35 states. From 2016 to 2023, they spread to every single state (in varying numbers – these are citizen reports, not studies).

The estimated population of feral pigs in the USA is about 9 million at the time of writing. In 1982, there were 2.4 million of them.

Here’s a golden rule in biology – overpopulation, no matter the species, is bad. It causes a complete imbalance in the ecosystem, and here’s how the feral pigs do it.

Feral hogs breed like crazy!

Pigs have the highest reproductive rate of any ungulate, and females give birth to 4-6 piglets in a single litter. Adult females have three litters in a 24-month span, which means that two adult hogs produce between 12 and 18 piglets in just two years.

Given that 18 adult pigs are more than enough to run over an entire planted field in just a few nights of feeding, you can see how their intense breeding is the core of the entire problem.

Although hunters can kill as many feral pigs as they’d like (more or less, depending on state regulations), they’re simply breeding so fast that hunters can’t keep up.

At this reproduction rate, hunters would need to kill up to 80% of the entire population a year to keep it controlled.

Even then, they would quickly repopulate.

Natural predators, such as alligators, cougars, and wolves, can’t control the feral hog population on their own.

They destroy crops and food sources for wild animals

Pigs are omnivorous, and they largely feed on grasses, roots, tubers, and even cacti. If they find any crops, such as corn or sunflowers, they will mow the entire field down and eat everything.

The issue isn’t just their insatiability (they can consume more than 5% of their body mass on a daily basis), but also the feeding method.

Feral pigs use their tusks and snouts to dig for food under the ground, often ripping out plants they don’t eat. On top of that, they’ll attack young livestock, such as lambs and calves, if they feel they can kill and eat them.

This problem isn’t limited to farmers only – it’s actively destroying the lives of deer and turkeys, as feral hogs destroy the food sources these animals would normally feed on.

The lack of food leads to migration, which in turn causes other ecological effects, and the chain goes on and on.

Crop and property destruction has reached billions in damages.

Feral hogs cause about $2.5 billion in damages on a yearly basis. Yes, you read that right – 2.5 billion dollars.

This doesn’t even account for the resources invested into controlling their populations. Texas, for example, spends about 4$ million a year to control feral hogs.

These numbers don’t only relate to destroyed crops, buildings, fences, and in extreme cases – mechanization. Hogs also poison water sources, leading to increased sedimentation and soil erosion.

This further exacerbates the destruction of plant life and makes the water dangerous for drinking.

Are feral hogs dangerous for people and pets?

Absolutely. First of all, feral hogs are hosts to various diseases which can be transmitted to people, our pets, and our livestock. Swine fever is probably the scariest out of all illnesses, but it isn’t the only danger.

Many people don’t know this, but feral hogs can kill and eat an adult person. In fact, they can make a human body, including the bone, completely disappear – something a few crime novelists used in their stories.

In the United States, there are about 100 documented instances of feral hogs attacking people without any provocation. Only five attacks were fatal, but if you ask me, that’s five too many.

They will attack both alone and in groups, although males are more likely to attack someone alone.

Solving the feral hog problem

If you’re facing constant invasions by feral hogs – there’s only one solution. Killing them.

These animals are the definition of the word ‘menace,’ and shooting them is really the only solution. You can install traps on your property, or you can simply pull out the Ol’ Reliable whenever they come around.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing more you can do at this point, as state-level efforts are necessary to control the population as a whole. Fences will, of course, slow them down, but they’re known to break through them. The only force that can completely stop them is lethal.

Some states allow killing animals on your property without a hunting license, but you may need a hunting license if you want to set a trap. Make sure to check that out before you pull the trigger.

Have you experienced damage from feral hogs?

What about you? Do you live in one of the areas under siege by feral hogs? Have you sustained damage from them? Have you found something that deters them? Have you been able to protect your property?

Let’s discuss it in the comments section.

About Tom

Tom is a former military reconnaissance scout with three years of extensive training and first-hand experience in navigation, first aid, firearms maintenance, combat, and wilderness survival. He is also an avid hiker and all-around outdoorsman, with a lifetime of experience in the wild. Aside from writing and sports, emergency preparedness is one of his biggest interests, and he’s a big believer in being ready for anything the world may throw at you. You may contact him at tomislavlovricwriting@gmail.com

Picture of Tom Lovrić

Tom Lovrić

Tom is a former military reconnaissance scout with three years of extensive training and first-hand experience in navigation, first aid, firearms maintenance, combat, and wilderness survival. He is also an avid hiker and all-around outdoorsman, with a lifetime of experience in the wild. Aside from writing and sports, emergency preparedness is one of his biggest interests, and he’s a big believer in being ready for anything the world may throw at you. You may contact him at [email protected]

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  • Wow, this is interesting! I looked up the laws for WI. Feral hogs are free game all year long here. Landowners do not need a license to hunt feral hogs. If you’re not the landowner, you need permission to be on property to hunt and a license. It’s not a bad problem in WI, but apparently they are up here in certain spots. Sidenote: it’s the same rules for coyote. We do have coyote on our property, and they’ve been coming up near the house lately. Time for some target practice.

  • I am near Edmonton, Alberta (57° 37’ – so not too southerly)… and we have them. They are found further north as well.

  • I live in the UK where we don’t have any wild pigs (feral hogs) so my question is – can you eat them? sounds like it would be free-range meat for the whole country!

    • Yes, you can eat them. BUT, you are what you eat.
      The way to go is to trap them or use “Dogos” or pit bulls to capture them. Then feed them corn for a few months to get the bad smell & taste out of the meat. You might consider smoking the meat at that point. So, it’s not so free at that point, but you may still save a few bucks, pun intended.

      • Feeding them corn to make them palatable sounds like throwing good money after bad. Convert them to dog food, Fido will be happy.

      • I have tasted wild hog down here in South America. Didn´t taste or smell bad at all…and those things were WILD. And huge.

    • I have raised hogs on pasture. They definitely have a more porky flavor than commercially raised hogs.
      There are some things, diseases you have to be aware of and of course, cook to the correct temperature.

  • I have raised about 22 hogs on pasture. Know what the signs are of their activity, rooting looks like someone plowed up the ground.
    I have read about the feral hog problem but have yet to see any around here.
    Flip side, we have black bears. Got a 12 second video of a young one at about 200lbs on a game cam out back.
    We also have coyotes too. Like large packs of what could be a dozen to two dozen. Big enough their howling has woken me up in the dead of night.

  • A tough footnote:
    No one wants to kill little babies, but if you only kill the adults, those babies are just going to continue to populate your area, and be a danger to your pets, livestock, crops, and family.

  • Good follow up article! Lots of folks make sausage from feral hog, just make sure that when you get your meat processed, you TASTE the recipe the guy uses before committing to paying for the processing. My boy paid someone to make a bunch of sausage, and it was inedible, so we threw away the whole batch because it was so bad. Over salted, terrible seasoning. Get someone who knows what they are doing so you don’t waste your time and money! Usually you can get someone in the area who know their stuff, because where there are hogs, there is someone processing them for the freezer!

  • Im not sure if I understand what I read, but, I feel that one of the ‘new’ ways of, essentially, poisoning the hogs to cut down on their numbers will eventually backfire. Does anyone have a better understanding of the proposed method?

  • We live in a semi-rural area in Florida and feral hogs every once in awhile will invade our area and trash people’s front yards. The County will hire a hunter to turn them into future spare ribs and pulled pork. The dead porkers get butchered and the food is given to the local homeless shelter.

  • We live in North Texas and feral hogs are a problem here. A few years ago we were aware of one in the open area in front of our house. Our donkey was braying like crazy and trying to stomp it – the hog left as soon as it could get away.

    Several years ago, a man that we went to church with hunted feral hogs. He had some processed into sausage and gave some to us. My husband cooked it up and it was literally the worst smelling thing that has ever been cooked in my kitchen. Nasty, greasy, foul smelling. My husband will eat almost anything and even he couldn’t eat it.

    A couple of years ago, we bought some really cheap bacon at the local grocery store and it smelled just like the sausage. We threw it out and will never buy any bacon again that is less than half of the other brands. I’m sure it was feral hog.

    • I had a customer ‘give away’ some deer meat to me. Man, did it taste bad. Some people just don’t have the heart to do the right thing: throw it away.

  • With all the good food being used for pet food there must surely be a way to convert these porkers into dog food, fish bait, shrimp chow, etc

  • We have 20 acres in Central Florida and had a feral pig problem a couple of years ago. We put out a wooden post and attached red solar blinking lights on the four sides. It seemed to have worked. They were digging 12 inch deep trenches all through the property. The lights were about 30 inches high on the post. There have been no more hogs but there’s a lot of building going on around us.

  • A good friend of mine was killed by a herd of feral hogs when they blocked the landing strip at Andrews in NC one evening. His small plane was no match for them and the crash killed 2 and maimed 1.

  • I’ve heard that you have to be careful when dressing or processing or cooking feral pig because they can carrying diseases and parasites that effect humans. This is true for home-grown regular pigs.

    There’s too many pigs to be spending ammo on the babies.

    Possibly the bad tasting meat comes from the stressful way they died. This is true for regular pigs. And I’ve tasted some very foul tasting deer. Try for the surprise quick kill of the resting or eating adult feral pig, perhaps from a safe long-ish distance.

    • I have raised, slaughter and processed 22 hogs.
      Head shot with a .22LR from 15 yards, puts them down quick the a long blade to the throat.
      What many people dont like about “gamey” wild meat is they are used to commercial grade, fed feed, that tastes like nothing or a pale comparison to the wild version eating what grows in the wild.

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