How did Feral Hogs Reach Maryland

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July 14, 2016
Categories: General

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Wild boar, otherwise known as feral hogs or wild pigs, are not native to the United States or Maryland. These pesky pigs were brought to North America by way of ship in the late 1400’s and 1500’s by explorers like Hernando DeSoto and Christopher Columbus. It is estimated that the first shipment of pigs to the U.S. was as large as 300 hogs. These first pigs were used as a food source or were traded to native people.

Most hogs brought over were allowed to roam free, many escaped, and as a result formed their own population of wild pigs. Of all livestock, pigs are the most likely to escape and “go wild” but why that is is unclear. Over many years the feral hog population has dwindled but, due to the resurgence of wild boar in the areas surrounding Maryland, it is cause for concern. In 2014, as a result of the growing population of wild hogs near Maryland, the DNR asked that Maryland hunters shoot to kill if they encounter wild hogs.

A 2013 census lists 6 million feral pigs found in 38 states. Texas has the largest feral pig population, estimated to number 2.3 million animals. At present there are significant feral pig populations in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, but there are no known breeding populations in either Maryland or Delaware. Recent estimates in Pennsylvania list 3,000 feral pigs in the state; the state has declared an open season on them, creating the Pennsylvania Feral Swine Task Force to develop strategies to control these populations. Some feral pigs have been shot in Allegany County, which more than likely migrated south from Bedford or Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Since the Potomac River separates Maryland from Virginia and West Virginia it is more likely that these boar will arrive from the north.

Wild boars cause significant damage to ecosystems due to their feeding habits. They dig out roots, eat eggs of ground-nesting birds and animals and leave behind nothing but bare dirt. For farmers, wild pigs destroy crops, kill other livestock and leave the landscape completely bare. Because they are so detrimental to the environment, they must be removed immediately. To prevent this devastation, the feral hog population has to be kept in check. If you come in contact with a feral hog on your Maryland property, contact us today for wild boar removal.

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