Wild pigs (also known as wild hogs or feral pigs) are highly adaptable and capable of fending for themselves, making them capable of existing in a variety of habitats. The appearance of wild pigs can cause a lot of damage, especially to livestock, agricultural fields, forests, the environment, and by threatening native wildlife as well. They tend to avoid areas where they may run into humans, but because of human population expanding those areas are being reduced. When a feral pig finds itself in a human populated area it may try to search for food in the trash, but it will do so at night when it cannot be seen as easily.
Feral pigs can damage agricultural crops by eating or trampling them and they can also damage crops while rooting and wallowing, which produces damage to plant roots, creates holes and ruts that can deteriorate farm equipment and endanger operators. Rooting, wallowing, and trampling activities compact soils, which in turn disrupts water infiltration and nutrient cycling. Beside this, the soil disturbances contribute to the spread of invasive plant species, which typically favour disturbed areas and colonize them more quickly than many native plants. Wild hogs may occasionally prey on livestock, especially newborn lambs, goats or calves; when this happens, they are usually attracted to birthing grounds by the scent of afterbirth or fetal tissue.
Preventive measures against wild pigs
Populations of wild pigs can be managed through lethal and nonlethal methods. However, to prevent them from causing damage to your crops, you can use exclusion methods such as installing fences to keep pigs out, using guard animals to protect livestock, and vaccinating animals to prevent disease spread. Also, by blocking their access to food, you will manage to keep them away, as wild pigs tend to stick to one area until all food sources are tapped out. This voraciousness is problematic for many reasons, such as the destruction of natural ecosystems, choking out native species, but none is more prevalent than decimated crops. Harvests of corn, rice, soybeans, and even cotton have been wiped out by roving boars. Wild pigs are known carriers of at least 45 different parasites, which they mostly spread through their droppings.
As they are known as “opportunistic omnivores” because they can eat anything and live anywhere, and they reproduce twice a year, with litters of 6 to 8 piglets, they can be considered dangerous predators that need to be prevented from roaming through your crops.
The best time of preventing wild pigs from roaming through your crops, is before the crops develop. As once they have a food source, it will be hard to keep the pigs away. Before the crops are developed, you should install fences around your crops, especially if you know you live in an area where wild pigs can appear.
As is the case with most pests, successfully preventing infestation depends on creating and maintaining an unwelcoming environment. In the case of wild pigs, particularly, what you need to understand is that they have 3 basic needs: food, water, and shelter. In most situations, your property will only be providing them with food and, occasionally, water. It is only sometimes, on large properties, that they will find shelter. Keeping this in mind, make sure you:
- do not to leave any sort of food outside, be it human or pet food;
- ensure that all your bin bags are tied securely and that all your bins have a tight-fitting lid;
- build strong fences around tempting sources of food, such as fruit, vegetables, plants which produce flowers;
- if you have a garden, and you live in an area which is vulnerable to a wild pig infestation, it is advisable to fence all of it in;
- electric fences are also effective;
- install motion detectors to your sprinkler system.
Another damage that wild pigs can create concerning livestock is breeding with domestic sows. Should a free-living male wild boar mate with a domestic sow, it can affect the purity of the breed, as all the future generations will be affected by this influence in their genes.
When installing a fence, maintenance is essential. A fence is only as strong as its weakest link and constant monitoring is required to guard against, for example, breaches by a fallen tree or, for an electric fence, to prevent grass and undergrowth from shorting out the current. Wild pigs can root under fencing if the ground is sufficiently soft, although this can be prevented to some extent by burying the lower part of the fence into the ground. The height of the fence is important because if alarmed, a wild boar can clear a five-foot fence with ease. Using electric fence around the area they keep coming into often works quite well, just make sure it is strong enough and that your pets don’t have access to it.
To reduce agricultural damage by keeping wild boar in forested areas, supplementary feeding at a time when the crops are most likely to be damaged has been effectively implemented in regions. the planting of foraging fields within the forest, containing maize, oats or potatoes, has also deterred wild boar from raiding farmland. These sacrificial crops require fencing which is only opened during times when agricultural damage is likely. On the other hand, supplementary feeding can increase wild boar population size as the additional food improves the condition of the animals, with a subsequent increase in potential for agricultural damage.
Should these preventive measures fail, and the number of wild pigs that roam on your property increases, elimination methods should be applied, such as baiting, trapping and hunting them down. More details regarding these ways of controlling and removing the wild pigs, can be fund in our article about ‘How to get rid of Wild Pigs‘. If natural or mechanical deterrents do not work, be prepared to face these pests and trap them, as it will be the only way of keeping them away from your crops. Keep in mind that while an individual or a few get removed from your property, other may appear, especially if you live in an area which benefits their development. After removing them from your property, keep applying the preventive measures mentioned above, as it might keep at bay a new generation that wants to emerge on your property.