Plague of wild pigs has U.S. authorities squealing
By Kevin Murphy
LOCUST GROVE, Okla. | Sat Aug 24, 2013
Aug 24 (Reuters) - A few years ago, Jim Vich would not have dreamed of setting up an elaborate trap to catch wild hogs.
But that was before Oklahoma was invaded by a plague of pigs that devour crops, uproot pastures, destroy wildlife habitats, spread disease to humans and animals, kill trees and even knock over cemetery stones.
"I started trapping them more or less in self-defense," said Vich, 60, a livestock farmer in northeast Oklahoma. "They were tearing up my place."
Oklahoma is battling a wild pig problem that has spread across the United States. The pigs, evolved from introduced wild boars or from escaped domestic stock, are prevalent in 36 states and have been sighted in 47 states, according to authorities who track their populations.
They are vicious critters that typically grow to 200 pounds, can run 30 miles per hour, jump three feet high and climb out of traps with walls up to six feet high, experts say.
"They are the ultimate survivors," said John Mayer, manager of the environmental science group at the Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken, South Carolina. "They can live pretty much anywhere, eat pretty much anything, they don't have enough predators and they reproduce faster than any other mammal."
They seldom appear in the daytime making them hard to count, but Mayer estimates there are 5.5 million feral pigs nationwide. There could be up to 8 million, up from a maximum 2 million in 1990, he said.