Do Pigs Have Wings?

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 17, 2010

archeological sites. Their rooting plows the earth to depths of 2-8 inches, much as a rotary tiller or an offset disc. This disturbs native plant communities and affects survivability of some plant species. In just one county in Texas, feral hogs cause an estimated $100,000 in crop damage annually. In southern states, feral hogs substantially damage lawns, gardens, parks and golf courses.


Because hogs lack sweat glands, they cool themselves by wallowing in seeps, springs, ponds, lakes and streams. Their wallowing contributes to soil erosion and sedimentation that smothers aquatic life, sometimes degrading rare natural communities.


Hogs also prey on newborn lambs, goat kids and deer fawns. They eat turkey and quail eggs, and they devour reptiles and amphibians that they uncover. Some Texas sheep ranchers annually lose 15 percent of their lamb crop to feral hogs. On the other hand, feral hogs have few natural predators.

Competition with Wildlife

Feral hogs also compete with native wildlife for food, especially for acorns. Telemetry studies have shown that turkey hens in Missouri's Ozarks lay small clutches, or fail to nest at all, in the year after failed acorn production. Any acorns consumed by feral hogs are at the expense of Missouri's turkeys, deer and other native wildlife.


Feral hogs, whether mature boars or sows with pigs, can be dangerous. Although most hogs run away at the sight of people, they have been known to charge. They also bully cattle, horses and deer away from feeders, sometimes causing them to run through fences.

Road Hazards

Any wild swine constitutes a potential road hazard. They are built "low to the ground" and are active at night. They lack the reflective layer (tapetum) at the back of their eyes that deer have, so their eyes don't shine when hit by artificial light. This and their generally dark coloration make them difficult for drivers to see.

Hogs in Missouri

Feral hog populations in Missouri are relatively small, localized and thinly scattered. However, feral hogs reproduce at a high rate. Each adult sow can wean 10-12 pigs per year. Their numbers easily can double twice a year. It's estimated that 70 percent of the hogs must be removed annually just to stabilize the population.

Because of their reproductive potential and limited number of predators, it's essential that we quickly identify occurrences of hogs and eliminate the animals before they begin to cause problems.

Though eradication or control of feral hogs is difficult, it has been accomplished at some sites in Missouri. The effort requires the cooperation of private landowners, federal and state agencies, agricultural organizations and hunters.

It's to the benefit of Missouri citizens and wildlife that everyone recognize the potential danger associated with these animals and prevent further releases and escapes. People should report sightings of feral hogs to the Conservation Department by calling (573) 751-4115, ext. 3147, the APHIS-Wildlife Services at (573) 449-3033 or their local Conservation Agent.


Missouri's feral hogs move frequently in response to food supplies and hunting pressure so they are difficult to find.

Private landowners and their neighbors generally kill feral hogs that appear on private property. You can help by hunting on public areas near where feral hogs have been spotted.

Many hunters don't target feral hogs, but take them while hunting other game. To find feral hogs, hunters must scout areas to locate fresh sign. They can then devise strategies to intercept them along trails to feeding areas, bedding sites and watering holes.

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