Feral hogs are a massive problem wherever they live, but in Australia the invasive species have done quite a bit of damage to the estimated 40% of terrain in the country that the beasts inhabit.
Experts estimate that there may be as many as 24 million feral hogs across Australia, and the pigs are blamed for causing the country to have the world’s highest rate of mammal extinction.
But the species also has some surprising ecological benefits: The explosion in the number of feral hogs has also been linked to the restoration of the Australian crocodile population, with the hogs providing an easy and abundant food source for the saltwater reptiles.
Although it seems some hogs (ok maybe just one) seems to be a threat to more than just the wildlife in Australia, after one also took out three cases of beer before going on a wild bender.
This crazy story actually happened back a few years ago, when it was reported that the feral hog managed to make off with 18 cans of beer that had been left out by a camper at the DeGrey River campsite in Port Hedland, Australia.
After he got good and drunk, the hog then did what the rest of us do after a night of drinking: Started looking for food. The hog went through the trash cans, digging around for a snack to soak up all that alcohol.
And like humans, it seems this hog also got some liquid courage after he got a few drinks in him, because he then apparently tried to start a fight with a cow (something the hog would probably know better than to do if he were in the right state of mind). But according to a camper who witnessed the scene:
“There was some other people camped right on the river and they saw him running around their vehicle being chased by a cow.
It was going around and around and then it went into the river and swam across to the middle of the river.”
At least he still had the sense to bail out once he realized he was outmatched – although as I mentioned, feral hogs are also a tasty snack for crocodiles, so he’s probably lucky he didn’t end up becoming dinner when he ran out into the water.
After his big night out, the hog eventually ended up passing out under a log on the river bank to sleep it off, and probably deal with the wicked hangover the next morning.
What a night.
Oh, and just for the record, don’t try to get feral hogs drunk on Twisted Teas like these guys did:
Hunter Takes Out Two Feral Hogs With One Arrow
What a shot… to be able to get a clean pass through and take out a second animal when they are this size is nothing short of impressive.
Feral hogs are an invasive species that pose a significant threat to the environment and. Originally brought to North America in the 1500s, feral hogs have spread across much of the southern portion of the country and are estimated to cause over $2 billion in damage each year. The problem is particularly dire in Texas where there is an estimated population over 3,000,000.
Feral hogs are a adaptable species that can thrive in a wide range of habitats, from forests to grasslands, and wetlands, and some are even adapting to survive in harsh northern temperatures. Dubbed “super pigs,” these new “bigger and smarter” hybrids are making their way across the Canadian border into norther states like Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota.
They are omnivorous and will eat almost anything, from crops and roots to small animals, and pretty much anything else they can find dead.
The biggest issues is that these pigs reproduce quickly and are hard to get rid of. One of the most effective methods for controlling feral hog populations is through hunting, although hunters can’t seem to hunt them fast enough.
However, hunting can be used to reduce the number of feral hogs in a specific area and to prevent the spread of the population.
This leaves no choice for farmers but to send people out to kill these destructive things. There are many methods used including traditional hunting, night hunting with thermal vision,using large traps, and even explosives like Tannerite.
This man is seen setting up for some hog hunting, and as he talks to the camera from the blind, he tells everyone what his game plan is:
“I’m gonna attempt to do something, that I don’t know anyone who has done it before, I know I haven’t done before. I’m gonna try to arrow two hogs with one arrow.”
An impressive goal to have and why not have some fun when you are trying to reduce the population to help out the environment and economy.
Luckily for this man, hogs travel in groups and often are close enough to possibly present a hunter with the perfect opportunity for this.
The hogs move in and the hunter gets his target. He is patient and waits for them to be perfectly broadside and lined up.
He lines up his crossbow takes the shot and passes the arrow through the first hog and nails the second. He gets two 100 pound pigs with one shot.
Well, I’d like to see somebody beat that.
America’s Feral Hog Problem Started With Only… 13 Pigs?
If you live in the South, and a quickly growing number of other regions, there is a nuisance animal that is almost impossible to ignore.
According to a 2020 report by Texas Parks & Wildlife, the population of wild hogs in the United States grew from 2.4 million to 6.9 million, just between 1982 and 2016. It continues to grow at high rates (18-21% per year) due to a “high reproduction rate, generalist diet, and lack of natural predators.” In the same time frame, feral hogs have expanded their range from 18 states to 35.
The same report cites a 2007 study done by the USDA which concluded that each wild hog has an annual control and damage cost of $300, putting the estimated amount then at $1.5 billion per year. Assuming the cost per hog remained constant, and taking into account the stated growth rate, the current population sits around 10 million with an annual cost of approximately $3 billion.
So how did this problem get so big?
Quite simply, they are not native to North America and their ability to consume almost any food source, coupled with their ability to survive in a wide range of environments, plus a real lack of natural predators has allowed their population to grow relatively unchecked since their arrival.
While humans have tried to implement control methods, like trapping, hunting, and “aerial gunning” (AKA shooting them from helicopters), these methods been ineffective at controlling populations at scale and prove to only be limitedly effective in controlled, small environments.
As the Texas report concludes:
“The need for novel methods of wild pig population control is obvious.”
But how did the hogs get here in the first place?
The first introduction of swine to North America came when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, landing in The Bahamas with 8 pigs, per the request of Queen Isabella.
But what is now the United States remained hog free until Hernando DeSoto landed in Tampa, FL in 1539.
The hogs were used for food and to trade with the local natives, who grew quite fond of the taste, and can you blame them? The first one to try bacon must have fallen over…
Those original hogs brought to Tampa are the ancestors of the modern day population that is wrecking havoc on farmers and land owners across the nation, so just how many did they bring over that spurred all this?
Was it boat loads? Multiple ships carrying nothing but ravenous pigs, ready to make this their land of opportunity?
Not even close.
Hernando DeSoto brought just 13 pigs to America.
No, that is not a typo. Thirteen. One three.
It turns out that hogs do not require the same genetic variability as other species to grow stably, and when DeSoto died just 3 years later the population had grown to 700, which did not account for those that had been eaten, escaped to the wild (the true ancestors), or had been given to the natives in trade or gifts.
That is absolutely astounding. Chances are the people had eaten hundreds, if not thousands over the years, showing the true explosive power of the herd.
From there it didn’t take long for the hogs to spread far and wide, both through natural progressions while looking for habitat, and as more humans brought them along for expeditions.
Wild. Just wild….
So the next time your garden or farm land gets turned up by some of these pests, you can thank the original 13 for their contributions.
I wonder if hogs think of them as their colonies who broke free and started their own thing…
Joe Rogan Discusses The Massive Feral Hog Problem In Texas
The king of podcasting himself, Joe Rogan, recently discussed one of the most complex wildlife management issues in the country.
He used his platform to sit down with Texas chef and butcher Jesse Griffiths and educate the masses on the seemingly uncontrollable plague of feral hogs that continues to explode throughout Rogan’s new home state of Texas.
There’s somewhere between 2 million and 4 million wild hogs in the state of Texas (6 million estimated in the entire country). And because they have no breeding season, they reproduce at an astronomical rate. They can begin to breed around 5-6 months old, the gestation period is less than 4 months, and they can have anywhere from 2-12 piglets per litter.
Just do some quick math and you realize that it’s possible for a pig to have a few dozen piglets each year, who can begin to breed themselves before the year is over. It’s nuts.
So if you’ve ever seen videos of folks in Texas gunning down wild pigs from a helicopter, this is why.
And if you remember back to Jason Isbell’s Twitter conversation on gun control, it earned a viral reaction when Willie here said he needed one kill the 30-50 wild pigs than run through his yard.
Legit question for rural Americans – How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?