In this article we will answer 19 frequently asked questions about wild hogs in the US.
This invasive species continues to grow in population and distribution areas. With this expanding problem often the facts and myths get mixed up.
These answers will help set the record straight.
- 1. Where Did Wild Boars Come From?
- 2. What Places Will I Find Wild Pigs In The US?
- 3. Are There Other Names For Wild Boar?
- 4. What Habitats Do Wild Pigs Live In?
- 5. Do Wild Boars Have A Home Range?
- 6. How Big Do Wild Hogs Grow?
- 7. What Is The Breeding Pattern Of Wild Pigs?
- 8. Are Wild Hogs Fast?
- 9. What Is A Wild Pigs Best Sense?
- 10. How Long Do Wild Boars Live?
- 11. What Do Wild Boars Eat?
- 12. Do Wild Pigs Communicate With Each Other?
- 13. Are Wild Boars Smart?
- 14. How Much Damage Do Wild Hogs Cause Each Year?
- 15. Do Wild Boars Carry Disease?
- 16. How Do I Know Wild Hogs Are Around?
- 17. What Impact Do Wild Hogs Have On Deer Populations?
- 18. Do I Need A Licence To Hunt Wild Boars?
- 19. Are There Any Eradication Programs In Place To Reduce Wild Hog Numbers?
1. Where Did Wild Boars Come From?
Before making their presence felt in the US, pigs had been domesticated in Europe, Asia and Africa for thousands of years.
Wild boars were first introduced into the United States in the 1500s by Spanish explorers as a source of food.
Later, during the 1900’s Russian or Eurasian boar was brought into the US for the objective of establishing a hunting population. Hawaii has had introduced feral swine shortly after Captain Cook’s discovery in 1778.
2. What Places Will I Find Wild Pigs In The US?
The US currently has an estimated wild boar population of between 5- 6 million. The biggest concentration can be found in Texas where over 2.6 million of these swine live.
11 Of The Best States for Hog Hunting. (Including Links to State Authorities)
Wild pigs can be found throughout the country, with the biggest populations found in the southern states.
Wild hogs have been found in over 38 states and continue to expand nationally. The current distribution of wild boar in the us is shown in this map from the United states Department Of Agriculture.
3. Are There Other Names For Wild Boar?
The scientific name for a pig is Sus scrofa. A feral or wild pig comes from the latin word fera which means a wild beast.
Some other common names include:-
- Russian boar
- Wild hog
- Feral pig
- Russian razorback
- Feral swine
- Piney woods rooter
- Boar – male
- Sow -female
- Piglet / runter – juvenile
- Sounders – group of females and young pigs
4. What Habitats Do Wild Pigs Live In?
Wild boars are tough animals that can thrive in a wide variety of environments.
Their main needs in habitat for survival are:
A) A nearby water source and
B) Thick vegetation for shelter. You will find wild hogs in swamplands, one of their preferred habitats, wooded areas, and open agricultural areas – a great food source.
Wild pigs like to sleep in well protected areas like thick underbrush.
They can live in most climates although areas with frozen ground impact their ability to feed as they are unable to dig.
In very hot climates wild boars will wallow in mud to keep cool. Pigs do not have sweat glands so in hot climates access to shady areas and wallows is essential for their survival. Florida swamps are perfect for this.
5. Do Wild Boars Have A Home Range?
Wild boars will stay in the same area as long as a few basic conditions are met.
- There is a good food and water source available.
- They are free from human disturbance including hunting pressure.
The size of this area varies from a few hundred acres to several square miles
Males will roam either alone or in a small band of other boars seeking out food and shelter. They will seek out the females when the sows come into heat.
Females and younger hogs will group together and this group is called a sounder.
6. How Big Do Wild Hogs Grow?
The size a wild hog reaches is determined by how good its habitat is with regards to food and water sources.
Typically the male is larger than the female but this is not necessarily true in every situation. A male hog grows easily to 200 – 300 pounds and a really big boar will top in at over 500 pounds.
7. What Is The Breeding Pattern Of Wild Pigs?
Wild hog sow with pigletsThe female sow become reproductive at about 10 months of age although as with most animals there is room for variance in this age.
Wild sows will have between 1 to 2 litters each year, giving birth to 4 -6 piglets per litter. Again food and habitat conditions will increase or decrease these numbers.
Typically the gestation period for a wild sow is 115 days. The piglets are typically weaned over a 3 month period, but you guessed it this can vary widely depending on local conditions.
8. Are Wild Hogs Fast?
Yes. They can easily run over 25 mph and continue this for long distances. Wild boars do not tend to jump high fences, rather they will look for access underneath the wire.
That said they can and do climb out of smaller traps so sides need to be high and free of corners for them to use as a hoof hold.
9. What Is A Wild Pigs Best Sense?
Wild hogs first line of defence is their sense of smell. This is extremely well developed, they can pick up odors from several miles away. They also use their sense of smell to detect food such as roots underground.
You have heard of domesticated pigs being used to smell out truffles underground for this exact reason.
Secondly wild hogs have a good sense of hearing however not in the same category as a deer. A wild pigs eyesight is not their strongest sense.
10. How Long Do Wild Boars Live?
Undisturbed wild hogs typically live for around 8 years. Unfortunately long term scientific research on this is not conclusive as local factors such as food, climate, water, habitat and hunting pressure will impact a wild pigs lifespan.
11. What Do Wild Boars Eat?
Well not quite but they are very opportunistic when it comes to food. They will chow down on both animals (carcasses are a favorite) and plant life.
Vegetation is eaten directly from the plants as well as being dug out of soft ground and mud.
Wild boars love attacking agricultural crops such as oats and corn. Vegetation makes up the majority of a wild hogs diet.
12. Do Wild Pigs Communicate With Each Other?
Wild hogs use squeals and grunts to communicate the basics. This includes warning of danger, boars fighting over a sow or a mother calling its young.
There is not a lot of detailed research on wild pigs communication methods compared to the extensive research done on deer.
Deer Sounds Scent & Body Language All You Need To Know. (Including recordings of common communication sounds).
13. Are Wild Boars Smart?
Yes. Wild boars will learn very quickly when new food sources become available. Where it is and how to get it. They will move out of an area as soon as there is increased hunting pressure.
Do not underestimate the wild pig brain!
14. How Much Damage Do Wild Hogs Cause Each Year?
Wild hogs are considered an invasive species. They have very few natural predators in the wild except the hunter. They have very high fertility rates.
As a result their population is growing quickly and therefore so is the damage they wreck on the environment.
The cost of this damage in the US is in the billions of dollars every year.
This includes damage to property such as fences and decimating agricultural crops such as oats and corn. Feral hogs foul up water sources used by humans and other wildlife.
They consume native wildlife, eat other animals food sources and destroy their habitats.
Feral pigs root around and dig up the ground when foraging food which causes soil erosion. They even cause extensive damage in areas of cultural and historical significance.
If that wasn’t enough feral hogs have attacked humans and caused collisions with vehicles.
15. Do Wild Boars Carry Disease?
In addition to the physical damage caused by wild hogs, they are known disease and parasite carriers.
Perhaps the disease of most concern carried by wild boars is swine brucellosis. Wild hogs have at least 34 pathogens that could be transmitted to livestock, humans, wildlife and pets. Other animals may be at risk of they come into contact with infected feral pigs, contaminated water or their shit.
These diseases as far as humans are concerned is really only an issue if raw meat is consumed or blood comes into contact with an open wound.
Wear gloves if handing raw feral hog meat.
The good news is if you cook your wild boar properly they are safe to eat.
16. How Do I Know Wild Hogs Are Around?
Tell tale signs of a wild hog population nearby include wallows – a piggy mud bath.
Typically after a good wallow hogs will rub themselves on nearby trees and brush. Nearby you will find evidence of their shit.
Another simple tell tale sign is the digging up of the ground where wild boars have been rooting around for food. Some of this diggings can be over an acre in size so you will not miss it.
As they chew on roots and comp through deadwood looking for worms and insects you will find shavings of wood lying around.
In the thicker cover you will find their sleeping bedding, basically a crater pig sized that they like to lay in.
17. What Impact Do Wild Hogs Have On Deer Populations?
Whilst hogs don’t hunt deer, they are opportunistic animals and if they get the chance to attack and kill a young fawn they will.
Their bigger impact on deer populations is in competition for the natural food and water sources.
They will also out compete deer for the food we humans provide by way of feed plots and baiting stations.
18. Do I Need A Licence To Hunt Wild Boars?
Hog hunting States require some form of licence or permit to hunt wild hogs. Landowners and farmers are generally able to hunt wild hogs without a licence.
It is very important you check the current regulations in each state before hunting or trapping wild hogs.
With the increasing feral pig problem growing all states are eager to reduce feral swine numbers so the regulations are not onerous.
Given the increasing feral hog populations and increasing damage done to natural and farming environments every year I encourage you to do your bit:- shoot a feral hog today! See this guide on hog shot placement.
19. Are There Any Eradication Programs In Place To Reduce Wild Hog Numbers?
Yes. States with a large feral hog population employ a range of eradication programs. Due to the size of the problem none have been fully effective in significantly reducing wild hog populations although good progress is being made.
Eradication programs include the promotion of hunting including hunting with dogs, trapping and snaring. Trapping whole sounder groups helps remove a breeding pod of wild pigs.Poisoned baits are laid in Texas in some areas as a means of control.
States and Federal governments continue to invest money is researching wild hogs to better understand how to manage their populations more effectively. More information can be found at the US Dept of agriculture.I hope you found these 19 facts, figures and answers to frequently asked question about feral hogs useful.
The best thing you can do is shoot a wild boar today.