Whether you call them wild pigs or feral hogs, they are no longer just a rural problem, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
Wild pigs cause more than $52 million in agricultural damage in Texas annually, said John Tomecek, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist, Thrall. But it’s their encroachment into increasingly urbanized areas that is becoming a burgeoning problem for landowners and municipalities.
Texas’ wild pig population was 2.6 million according to a 2012 study. Now experts estimate their numbers have reached at least 3 million. Damage from the pest has been reported in nearly all 254 Texas counties.
Tomecek said wild pigs’ growing confidence to enter more populated areas raises public health and safety concerns. Encounters with humans and pets and contamination of riparian areas or disease exposure are becoming more likely as wild pig numbers continue to grow and sounders range into urban-suburban areas.
Human interactions with wild pigs
“If a person is walking and comes across wild pigs, don’t make them feel cornered,” he said. “You won’t outrun them, but they typically will give up the chase if they don’t perceive a threat. But if a person is threatened or pigs become aggressive, get off the ground. Climb a tree or a car, do anything to get elevated. If that isn’t an option, try to get away, but in that instance stay on your feet at all costs.”
Property damage/Public health concerns with wild pigs
Wild pigs on urban-suburban roadways is a major property and public safety concern, Tomecek said. Vehicle versus pig accidents cost Texas drivers more than $1,100 per accident, according to an AgriLife Extension report. Human injuries were reported in 6% of those accidents.
Tomecek said damage to lawns, as wild pigs search for food resources, is another growing problem in developing areas.
Be proactive with wild pigs, but be a good neighbor
Tomecek said landowners and cities should take proactive stances against wild pigs where possible. They should focus on public lands and right-of-ways adjacent to or near bottomlands, creeks and heavily covered areas. Wild pigs are also mostly nocturnal, which means homeowners will likely see the damage they cause before seeing the animals.
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