Friday, July 20, 2012

Feral Hogs: Scourge of the Forest

(Alternative Title:  Shoot 'em All)
There are a number of reasons I hunt yet generally despise feral hogs.  On the positive side, they are quite tasty if of the right size and well prepared.  Unfortunately, the "negative" side of the equation is long and ugly.

Hog damage to a field
Being omnivores, they eat just about anything.  Most of the time, they simply tear up the ground eating roots and grubs in addition to causing millions of dollars in crop damage each year.  They very actively compete with other native species for hard and soft masts crops (acorns, fruits, ...)  Feral hogs have wiped out turkey and quail populations in many places since these birds nest on the ground.  Stomach content surveys show an individual hog might eat dozens of frogs, toads and snakes in just a few days.  Talk about an impact on a wetlands ecosystem.

Unfortunately, there is increasing evidence of them actively predating on other small mammals too.  I've heard stories of people witnessing hogs chasing a rabbit and then digging it out of a burrow and eating it.  You could imagine a pack of hogs prowling a field where lambs or other small creatures are beginning to drop.  Coyotes might be the least of the concerns.

Recently, I received the following picture from a friend.  It shows a feral hog carrying a very dead whitetail fawn in its mouth.

I did a bit of research and found the following series of photos.  There were several game-cam photos of a doe giving birth right in front of the camera.  Very cool. The fawn is clearly seen at 3:23AM.  ~ 45 minutes later, he would be dead.

A couple of the neighborhood thugs show up...

And nature's cleaning crew cleans up what is left.

Source for above photos:

Apparently, the rancher found a small patch of fawn skin and part of the skull.

I showed the first photo to my wife and voiced my general disgust / hatred for these animals.  She asked if I thought it was ironic that I personally have no issues with killing a deer myself but get angry with a feral hog doing the same thing.

No.... as a matter of fact, I don't see any irony in this at all.  I learn of or see a deer that was killed by coyotes (a native species), it makes me think of the circle of life and start humming the theme song from The Lion King.  I see evidence of a hog doing the same thing and it makes me mad.   They are not native and do a great deal to upset the balance of things.

Now... if the hogs start only killing deer of a certain age, at a certain time of the year and after buying a hunting license and taking a hunter education course, we can talk…

A Man in the Woods

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