The United States is on the brink of a major large pig ‘time bomb’ with the number of the feral hogs increasing in huge numbers.
Dr. Jack Mayer, a research scientist and zoologist who has been researching wild pigs for 40 years, warns that the hogs’ numbers will continue to increase until something catastrophic like a swine flu epidemic slows their numbers.
“It’s a crazy situation with everything that’s happened in what I call the Pig Bomb, which has exploded in North America,” said Mayer.
Out of Control Numbers
The population of wild hogs in Texas alone is between two to six million. States like Florida, California, and Georgia also have significant populations of the feral pigs. There are thought to be around nine million of the feral swine in 39 states across the country. They are also expanding at a rate of 35,000 square miles a year.
Mayer believes that the link between the increasing number of newborn piglets is due to global warming. The warmer temperatures help plants like acorns, bulbs, roots, and tubers grow for the pigs to feast on.
The wild pigs can start reproducing at just three months old and do so twice a year.
Both California and Texas have encouraged residents to recreationally hunt the pests to try and reduce the population. However, even if 75 percent of the population is killed off, they would be able to fully repopulate within three years.
Dale Nolte, the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program manager at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, says that the issue is no laughing matter.
“I’ve heard it referred to as a feral swine bomb. They multiply so rapidly. To go from a thousand to two thousand, it’s not a big deal. But if you’ve got a million, it doesn’t take long to get to four million, then eight million.”
Swarms of Massive Hogs
The pigs, which are a mixture of breeds and wild boar, can grow to a large size and have litters of ten or more.
The animals are thought to be responsible for around $2.5 billion worth of damage. They are known to eat through crops, destroy plants, attack calves, lambs, and pregnant livestock.
Places like Montana have been successful at eliminating the beast with a campaign called ‘Squeal on Pigs’. The campaign encourages residents to call a 24-hour hotline to report the pigs, which officials will trap and kill.
[H/T Daily Mail]