December 08, 2022

The University of Arkansas hogs are again looking good in all fall sports this year.  The football team finished 6-6 and are off to the Liberty Bowl on December 28th.  Men’s Basketball is currently ranked 9th, and the women (a perfect 10-0) just cracked the rankings at 21st.  Women’s volleyball advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling 3-1 to 3rd seeded Oregon.  Women’s Soccer has consistently been dominant and entered this season ranked 11th.  Both Women’s and Men’s Cross Country are coming off SEC championships last year and are set to make another “run”.  This is rounded out this by the Swimming and Diving teams.  Then there are the Club Sports, with the UofA Quidditch Club (yes, Harry Potter) and both Men’s and Women’s Rugby.  As I thought how the Hogs tearing up the sports fields, I opened my local newspaper to again find a front page article on how feral hogs were still tearing up real fields.

The AP article stated the war on feral hogs in the US is in its eighth year and the invasive animals are still a multibillion-dollar plague on farmers, wildlife, and the environment.  The federal program has succeeded in wiping out the hogs in 11 of the 41 states where they were reported in 2014 or 2015, and there are fewer hogs in parts of the other 30.  However, despite more than US$100 million in federal money, an estimated 6 million to 9 million feral hogs still ravage our landscape.  They tear up planted fields by wallowing out huge bare depressions.  They out-eat deer and turkeys, while eating turkey eggs and deer fawns.  The hogs carry parasites, disease, and pollute streams and rivers with their feces.  Total US damages are estimated at a minimum US$2.5 billion a year.

The four worst-hit states are California, Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida, all with more than 750,000 hogs.   Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina put their populations at 100,000 to 750,000.  The Texas population overall has been ‘fairly stable’ at roughly 3 million since 2011, said Mike Bodenchuk, state director for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.  However, statewide reduction (not eradication) is likely to be a long way off with tools and money now available.  Hogs are so prolific that 70% of those in a given area must be killed each year to keep numbers stable.  To reduce populations, you only need to kill more than are born each year, but growth rates vary in different environments and hogs can have two litters a year.  That means we need to do more monitoring.

THOUGHTS:  My nephew graduated from the University of Kansas who is the Arkansas Hogs bowl opponent this year.  When the news was announced I received a text saying, “I smell bacon.”  Research is ongoing for ways to poison feral hogs without killing other animals.  The poison used is sodium nitrite, which is a preservative in bacon, but keeps the blood of live hogs from carrying oxygen.  Currently, the two major control methods are aerial shooting and remote-controlled traps that send cellphone pictures when a hog is inside.  While the hogs seem to represent a potential food source, procuring the elusive hogs has always been a problem.   Hogs are also known to carry at least 24 diseases, including salmonella, hepatitis, E. coli, swine influenza, and trichinellosis.  Another concern is brucellosis, which is spread by bacteria.  You do not have to eat the meat to contract the desease and can be infected from contact with blood, tissue, and other bodily fluids of infected hogs.  When invasive species are introduced into other environments it rarely has a good outcome.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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