Do Pigs Have Wings?

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 17, 2010

any permit. They may use any method on their land to take feral hogs throughout the year.

Feral or Domestic?

Feral or "wild" hogs generally involve a combination of blood lines that include Russian or Eurasian Wild Boar (razorbacks) and an assortment of domestic varieties. Most of these are Yorkshire, Hampshire and Duroc. Some feral hog populations even acquire potbellied pig genes after people tire of their pets and abandon them in rural areas. All of these swine interbreed, and the offspring display a variety of sizes and colors including gray, red, black, spotted, and black and white belted.

Most feral hogs are released intentionally by people who want to hunt them. Hogs that escape from inadequate or damaged enclosures can also go wild, as can swine that are abandoned when pork prices periodically hit bottom, making it unprofitable to take them to market. Once in the wild, they multiply rapidly.

Missouri is not the only state suffering from this situation. Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington now have free-ranging hogs within their borders, as do the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Of course, substantial numbers of wild hogs already exist in Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and California.

Hog Problems

Wild hogs have the potential to spread diseases that affect people, pets and livestock. Currently, the diseases of most concern are trichinosis, leptospirosis, swine brucellosis and pseudo-rabies. In southern states, feral hogs frequently have infection rates of 10 percent for swine brucellosis and 30 percent for pseudo-rabies. One domestic hog operation in Georgia was invaded twice by diseased wild boars that infected the stock. As a result, all of the domestic hogs had to be destroyed.

Feral swine could also spread foot and mouth disease, anthrax, or various swine fevers. An outbreak of any of these diseases could be catastrophic. In 2001, for example, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease caused $7 billion in economic losses, including a quarantine on all English beef. Entire herds were condemned and destroyed. A similar outbreak in Missouri could devastate the state's cattle industry. It's also conceivable that feral swine could provide a reservoir for various other viruses to mutate and eventually affect people.

Rooting and Feeding

Feral hogs primarily eat plants, roots, acorns and earthworms. In pursuit of food, they may substantially damage pastures, hayfields, grain and truck crops, vineyards, forest land and

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