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Feral Swine Removal Demonstration Project

Posted by Edward Avalos, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs in Animals Plants
Jul 24, 2013

Recently I traveled to New Mexico to meet with APHIS-Wildlife Services’ personnel for a firsthand view of their Feral Swine Removal Demonstration Project that aims to eliminate feral swine from the state.  Feral swine are an invasive species with a population that has grown from approximately 1 million in 17 states in the 1980s to more than 5 million across 38 states today.  If left unchecked, their numbers could exceed 10 million by 2018.  Feral swine carry more than 30 diseases that pose a potential threat to humans, livestock, and wildlife, and the total cost of feral swine damage to U.S. agriculture, livestock facilities, private property, and natural resources is estimated to be $1.5 billion annually.

Wildlife Services’ demonstration project is benefitting from tremendous cooperation with federal, state, tribal, and nongovernmental partners, including the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, New Mexico State Land Office, and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, as well as with the Mescalero Apache Tribe, New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, New Mexico Wool Growers’ Association, affected counties and private land owners, among others.

The project is in its 6th month of operation and to date Wildlife Services has conducted feral swine work on more than 175 New Mexico properties totaling 4.1 million acres of land.  Wildlife Services is using a combination of methods to find and remove feral swine, including the use of surveillance cameras, cage and corral traps, and aerial operations.  The New Mexico project is intended to provide guidance and support for a national program to reduce problems associated with feral swine and where possible eliminate feral swine from targeted states.

A feral hog in a box trap alongside the Pecos River in DeBaca County, New Mexico
A feral hog in a box trap alongside the Pecos River in DeBaca County, New Mexico

An item of interest brought to my attention during the trip was the threat feral swine pose to the lesser prairie-chicken, a species currently being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act.  Feral swine prey on adults and chicks while also damaging critical habitat.  Removal of feral swine may help lesser prairie-chicken populations recover, preventing the need for federal protection and enabling ranchers to operate without additional restrictions.

In closing, I’d like to give a shout out to the Wildlife Service team in New Mexico for their hospitality and dedication to the success of this important demonstration project.

Livestock interacting with feral swine at a feeder in New Mexico.
Livestock interacting with feral swine at a feeder in New Mexico.
Category/Topic: Animals Plants

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Comments

kathy helms
Jul 24, 2013

What happens to the feral swine after they are captured? Are they destroyed, or do they get relocated?

Catherine Gibbons
Jul 24, 2013

My question is the same as Kathy's. What happens to these animals once they are trapped? Are they humanely relocated?

keith
Jul 25, 2013

They are destroyed. Relocation does not solve the problem. I really can't believe that someonw would even think that 5 million hogs can be "relocated"! I guess we could have "federal" holding facilites (like with the "feral" horse issue) so we (the taxpayer) can spent 60,000,000 dollars a year feeding "feral" hogs. What a joke!

keith
Jul 25, 2013

I do think some thought could be given to the possiblility of capturing these animals...putting them in hog facilities....cleanse them of parisites...feed them out and possibility slaughtering them for human consumption. That would at least capture some of the expense it cost us tax payers to run this program.

TJ
Jul 25, 2013

I don't think there is a cost effective way of eliminating feral hogs without extermination. They are a nuisance animal that causes problems for agriculture/livestock producers and they should be put down...just like raccoons.

Aaron
Jul 25, 2013

Feral hogs are fun to hunt and are not bad to eat. Kind of a shame to waste them when the same department that is spending millions on food stamps is also spending millions on eradicating a potential food source.
I realize they are a significant problem but do have to question why the federal government is going into the hog business, especially on non federal land. A lot of small businesses specialize in this area and can be hired by farmers and ranchers. Why has it become the job of the federal government to become land managers for land owners yet again?
Although the forest service claims hunting only plays a small role in management I really have to question why so many federal lands have very little if any opportunities provided for people to hunt feral hogs. Hunting is often a good revenue source for the surrounding communities and could relieve some of the burden of management from the federal government. Hunters are also contributing a good chunk of revenue to the federal government through license fees and the Pittman Robertson act each time they purchase a firearm and ammo. One would think hunting feral hogs should be encouraged on federal lands.

Tracy Bowman
Jul 25, 2013

I think we need to think of this from an ecological systems perspective. These feral hogs are outcompeting native species and causing population loss, and are disruptive in farms and ranches, thereby contributing to higher food costs. Moreover, these animals are encroaching into urban/surburban settings - my elderly mother went out in her yard in NM to find one roosting in it. That's dangerous.

It costs money to track, and capture these animals....but it would cost more money to test and treat for disease and pests.

Hank
Jul 25, 2013

In TX, there is a program where folks can bring trapped feral pigs to processing centers where the pigs are inspected by USDA staff, then killed and process for humen consumption.

Jim
Jul 25, 2013

One needs to get ones priorities straight. Many responses are well meaning but short sighted. Hogs destroy entire ecosystems that impact countless wildlife species as well as plant species. Feral swine cannot be controlled through hunting. Hunting only makes them more warry and difficult to trap. There is no safe population number of feral hogs only complete elimination. If you have ever seen the damage feral hogs cause to natural areas as well as agriculture you would have no doubts.

Jay
Jul 25, 2013

So, why can't they be eaten like regular hogs?

Jay
Jul 25, 2013

So I read the whole story about diseases they carry now I know DUH!

DJ
Jul 26, 2013

Well Aaron, The government does this to protect Human Health and Safety. Can contractors do it where it is cost effective to/for those that are being devasted by their destruction.

Annette
Aug 12, 2013

As a former Florida gal I have seen feral hogs in action but I have also greatly enjoyed eating them. Their meat is superior to that of feed lot raised hogs so destorying them seems like a great waste of a wonderful food source. Their are farmer in Florida that allow hurting on their land and charge a fair price for the hogs hunted and you are going to get a hog the only question is what size (and sex). However, all can be eaten and like I said they are very good eating.

Lisa
Feb 01, 2016

How do I find how to obtain government grants to help eradicate these wild hogs. I heard there are grants or loans. Who do I contact

lee Elliott
Aug 20, 2016

Only way to control the wild pig is an approved pesticide and a specific feeder for wild pigs. You need a 70-80% annual kill to stay even,no increase or decrease in population . hunting, trapping, dogging and snare them will NEVER control them!

Carol P. McRae
Sep 24, 2018

we need help in south east Ala. with the growing hog population...its tearing our hay fields and crops up. we put up electric fences around the corn crops but cant afford to do that with the hay fields. we purchased an 8000.00 bull creek hog trap and have successfully caught 36hogs.. they are sooo smart we can only do so much. Is there any assistance in the southeast al. area.

donald ray mcvey conroe tx.
Nov 15, 2018

use a backhole to dig a hole big as a truck beb about 2 foot depe put clay in the bottom & sides so it dont run of water or fill it up. put 100 lb milo & 100 lb corn in it a week put the hole one half in the woods put a round trap around it with two gates with camers so u can see theh dont catch the first ones wait 2 or 3 weeks do not kill them hall them out in a traler and sell them i found a hole a old timer made years ago a mile from the river so we put milo and corn in it hog run off the deer there were so many hogs the smell travle for miles witch way the wind blew a hog lives by there nose i had other hunters ask us what is that smell, i did not know, i killed 15 or more Texas hogs 70 billom dollars in damage this needs to sent to the right people to help they go by smell it will bring them in for 4 or 5 miles or more. every body i took down there shot hogs. smell does travle a long ways, a old timer made this, i found it. smell i saw 125 or more at one time 125 lb.

john shtogren
Jan 31, 2019

In 2013 projected 10 million feral swine population in 2018 if unchecked.
What was it in 2018?

Ben Weaver
Feb 01, 2019

@john shtogren - thank you for your question. It is important to note that in 2014 the USDA initiated the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program to address this dangerously destructive invasive species. The overarching goal of this program is to protect agricultural and natural resources, property, animal health, and human health and safety by managing damage caused by feral swine in the United States and its territories.

Since 2014 the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Wildlife Services program has worked diligently with our partners to reduce and in some cases, eliminate, feral swine populations. So, this effort means that feral swine in the United States have not been left unchecked since 2013 (the year the blog post about which you are commenting was published).

Currently 37 states and 3 U.S. territories receive Federal funds to manage feral swine. Through our and our partners’ efforts, 13 states have decreased their feral swine populations -- including 4 which have actually eliminated feral swine altogether! For more information about these efforts, please visit: www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/wildlifedamage/operational-activities/feral-swine/feral-swine-program.