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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

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