Feral pigs really suck, and they are spreading

The USDA believes feral swine are now found in at least 39 States and cause approximately $1.5 billion in damages and control costs each year. (Photo: USDA)

The USDA believes feral swine are now found in at least 39 States and cause approximately $1.5 billion in damages and control costs each year. (Photo: USDA)

A new study contends the continental U.S. is threatened by a rapid expansion of invasive and destructive wild pigs, with most of the country overrun within 30 years.

The study, compiled by researchers from Texas A&M, Yale University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service studied the known populations of feral pigs in the country over three decades from 1982-2012 and published their findings in last month’s Journal of Applied Ecology.

The model they developed from the study found the average rate of expansion of these populations has increased from about about 3 miles per year to more than 6 miles per year “suggesting most counties in the continental USA could be inhabited within the next 3–5 decades.”

The researchers found little slows the expansion with the exception of severe winters in areas where the pigs are moving to colder regions.

The USDA’s APHIS contends the feral pig problem in the country is one that we can’t barbecue ourselves out of, with known populations of over 6 million distributed across 39 States. The animals range from 75 to 250 pounds and have been linked to the decline of nearly 300 native plants and animals affecting both game and protected species as well as damaging archeological sites and millions of dollars worth of important crops.

In 3-5 decades, this map could be a lot more red (USDA)

In 3-5 decades, this map could be have a lot more red on it (USDA)

Many states have very liberal hog hunting seasons while others have called in helicopter-borne gunners to help cull numbers.

New technology being tested by the USDA include oral toxicant bait and swine-specific bait delivery systems, as well as modifying existing trap designs.