Wild pigs causing problems across the CSRA

Published: Mar. 7, 2018 at 5:17 PM EST
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Wild pigs are a big problem and can be found everywhere across Georgia and South Carolina. They push out native wildlife, cause property damage, and spread disease.

Wild pigs were first brought to America in the early 16th century by Spanish explorers. The invasive species is now found in 40 states and cause a wide range of economic and ecologic damage. Millions of dollars in damage is done each year in South Carolina and Georgia by pigs rooting the ground in search of food.

"South Carolina released some numbers back in October, about $117 million worth of pig damage across the state. Our survey in Georgia from 2015 was about $100 million to crops and $50 million to non-crops", says Dr. Michael Mengak, Associate Dean for Outreach at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia.

Wild pigs are referred to as opportunistic omnivores and nature's bulldozers, meaning they eat anything and tear up everything, whether it be a golf course or freshly planted row crop. They also carry multiple parasites and diseases that can be transferred to humans and livestock.

"Some of the dangerous ones, trichinellosis is a parasite that we can get from undercooked pork meat. I think pretty much everyone has heard about that. Brucellosis is another one that can be transmitted to people it can be fatal", Mengak says.

So we know they're a problem, but how do we deal with it? The simple answer is corral traps, but it is going to be an uphill battle. These traps are the only effective tool for eliminating the entire group, which is called a sounder. Hunting is a popular method for eliminating pigs, but it is not an effective method since you only take a few out of the sounder. Corral traps are a process that requires patience and ongoing maintenance.

"Have the patience to wait until they all come into the trap. If you sit there and say well I know there are 20 in the group, but I have 15, so I’m going to close the trap. Well yeah you caught 15 out of 20, but you got 5 that are still out there and say it's five sows and 3 of the 5 are pregnant you're back to the same numbers if not more than you had before," says Michael Foster, Wilkes County Agricultural Natural Resource Agent.

High-end corral traps can top $5,000. Even though it is a big initial investment, the average pig cause $300-400 in damage a year, so your return on investment is quick.

Don't forget, wild pigs are edible. Just make sure to use rubber gloves while cleaning the animal and cook it thoroughly.