September 17, 2021

One of the teasers as you browse the big outdoors store is the maze of specialty foods and candies you need to traverse to get out the door.  While I generally do not pay them much attention, we had eaten an early lunch and were killing time before going for dinner.  I found this like going to the grocery story on an empty stomach.  All the junk food you usually resist somehow ends up in your basket.  We started looking at the different types of jerkies, but I resisted.   Then came the old-fashioned candies, including a variety of licorice sticks, but I resisted.  Then Melissa came to the checkout with a chunk of peanut butter fudge and a Payday bar in the basket, and that made me waiver.  The last hurdle was the checkout itself.  They had Cherry Mash bars I had not seen in years and Sugar Daddy bars on a stick that we both used to love, and that is where we folded.  I added one of each and Melissa got a Snickers bar for measure.  By that time, I was lost and went back to retrieve a package of Wild Boar jerky.

When I looked online, I found the wild boar (Sus scrofa), or wild pig, is a Suidae native to much of Eurasia and North Africa and has been introduced to the Americas and Oceania.  The species is now one of the widest-ranging mammals in the world.  It has been assessed as least concern on the IUCN Red List due to its wide range, high numbers, and adaptability to a diversity of habitats and has become an invasive species in part of its introduced range.  Wild boars probably originated in Southeast Asia during the Early Pleistocene and then spread throughout the Old World.  The species lives in matriarchal societies consisting of interrelated females and their young (male and female), while full grown males are solitary outside the breeding season.  The wild boar has a long history of association with humans and is the ancestor of most domestic pig breeds.  Boars have also re-hybridized in recent decades with feral pigs.  These hybrids have become a serious wild animal pest in the Americas and Australia.

The wild boar and boar-pig hybrids of America cause problems as they out-compete native species for food, destroy the nests of ground-nesting species, kill fawns and young domestic livestock, destroy agricultural crops, and eat tree seeds and seedlings (is that all?).  Boars also destroy native vegetation and wetlands through wallowing, damaging water quality.  They are known to come into violent conflict with humans and pets and carry both pig and human diseases which may be transmitted.  While both captive and feral (“razorbacks”) domestic pigs have been in North America since the earliest European colonization, pure wild boars were not introduced into the New World until the 19th century.  The suids were released into the wild by wealthy landowners as big game animals and were contained in fenced enclosures.  Escapes occurred and the escapees intermixed with established feral pig populations.  This seems to be a consistent pattern.

Thoughts:  The boar jerky I purchased was produced by a ranch in New Mexico.  They are a sport hunting ranch that raises Elk, Bison, Deer, and Cattle.  Each meat is also turned into their specialized (read expensive) jerky.  The boar jerky package assured me this was made from the meat of feral hogs (not wild boar).  The meat of the feral hogs was like other wild meats, and the jerky was greasy.  I have seen several documentary series on TV that feature the capture and elimination of feral hogs in Texas and Louisiana.  Feral hogs (razorbacks) are even considered a pest in Arkansas and the AR Game and Fish Commission do not consider the hogs wildlife.  This is another species released by humans that we cannot control.  Perhaps we should learn a lesson.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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