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Wild and Feral Pigs

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This digital collection includes presentations given at the 8th International Wildlife Ranching Symposium held in 2014 for the symposium theme: Wild and Feral Pigs.


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  • ItemOpen Access
    Examining the monetary risks and rewards for the anthropogenic spread of wild hogs
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Caudell, Joe N., speaker; Welch, Katelyn, speaker; Dowell, Emily, speaker; Higginbotham, Billy, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    Wild hogs (Sus scrofa) are an invasive, exotic species that have spread through much of the US through anthropogenic means. Many states have laws and regulations with the intent of reducing the illegal importation, introduction, and establishment of wild swine populations. However, in many cases, these laws have been ineffectual for stopping the anthropogenic spread of wild swine. To assess the risk for moving wild hogs, we examined various wild hog-related laws throughout the US and assessed the potential reward for their illegal movement. We found that fines ranged from 0 to > $10,000, with the mean minimum fine of $497 a mean maximum fine of $2578. The average number of years in jail for the release or possession of wild hogs was .65 years. The mean cost of a single-day hunting trip was $500; however, this varied widely among states. In many cases, the potential rewards for releasing wild hogs far outweighed the monetary risk from getting caught. States with few or no wild hogs and weak laws and/or fine are at a substantial risk for the illegal importation of wild hogs. In many cases, the risk of getting caught and having to pay a low fine is far outweighed by the money and opportunity costs saved by being able to hunt hogs in their own state. To reduce the potential for the spread of wild hogs, agencies should concentrate on increasing monetary fines or increasing the perceptions that this illegal activity will be successfully prosecuted.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Toxicants and contraceptives for feral swine in the US
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Foster, Justin, speaker; VerCauteren, Kurt, speaker; Eckerly, Doug, speaker; Higginbotham, Billy, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    With partners, we and others are working to develop and register toxicants and contraceptives for feral swine in the US. Our toxicant efforts are focused on using sodium nitrite (SN) as the active ingredient. We are assessing and comparing the palatability, lethality, and general potential of promising formulations of SN in controlled, captive settings. We are also trialing a variety of swine-specific feeders. In this presentation we will provide an update and present our findings to date. We also lay out our path going forward toward the US and Australian registration of a SN-based toxicant for the control of feral swine. In a parallel effort we are also working to develop a species-specific contraceptive reagent for feral swine that can be delivered as a bait and cause permanent sterility. An update on this line of endeavor will also be provided.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Wild pig damage & conflicts
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Strickland, Bronson, speaker; Higginbotham, Billy, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    In North America, wild pigs have been a source of conflict since their introduction in the 1500's. The destructive foraging behavior, combined with a diverse omnivorous diet and prodigious reproductive capacity make the wild pig one of the most costly invasive species in North America. Wild pigs directly impact row-crop agriculture, pasture, forest regeneration, and water quality and even depredate juvenile livestock. Wild pigs also cause extensive environmental damage by competing with native wildlife for food, and by depredation of herpetofauna, small mammals, ground-nesting birds, and opportunistically, the young of large mammals. Wild pigs have been linked to the spread of invasive plants and may be changing the species composition of some forests by selective consumption of seeds and seedlings. In many areas, wild pigs are now common in suburban areas causing damage to lawns, landscaping and golf courses. The first step in dealing with a problem is recognizing there is a problem. This presentation will provide the framework and justification for the symposium, and segue to subsequent presentations on proactive techniques landowners and organizations are taking to control this pest. Unfortunately, as wild pig populations continue to expand throughout the U.S. damage and conflict will only increase. This symposium aims to inform the audience of the dangers of ignoring the emerging problem of wild pigs in the U.S. and will propose solutions for stemming their spread.
  • ItemOpen Access
    North American feral swine diseases: are we winning, yet?
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Jack, Skip, speaker; Higginbotham, Billy, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    Swine have been around for many millennia, present in North America about one-half of one. They continue to expand their home ranges and unfortunately, they share several infectious diseases with our domestic animals and many zoonotic diseases with humans (e.g. TB, brucellosis, leptospirosis, pseudorabies, etc.). As home ranges (human, wildlife, and domestic animals) expand there will be ever-increasing interactions and opportunities for disease spread. Disease surveillance reports indicate that there are various agents and prevalence around the US. But, apparently management strategies and disease control measures have not yet proven effective. A survey is underway to ascertain the efficacy of various measures. We are meeting this week, an indication that problems persist and continue to expand. Do we need to rethink or expand control strategies for swine and/or disease control (rhetorical question!)? The true question is WHEN we will change our strategies for this control. Will we wait for a crisis?
  • ItemOpen Access
    Traditional and emerging methodology to educate the public about wild pigs
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Higginbotham, Billy, speaker; Cathey, Jim, speaker; Tyson, Mark, speaker; Higginbotham, Billy, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    The wild pig population in Texas is estimated at 2.6 million animals and damage to agronomic enterprises is conservatively estimated at $52 million annually. In response to this damage, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service increased educational efforts and direct control of wild pigs via Wildlife Services. Recently social media has been employed to reach clientele who may not come to traditional Extension programming. From 2006 -2013, grant funds from the Texas State Legislature via the Texas Department of Agriculture were used to develop and deploy an integrated strategy of landowner education via traditional one-on-one contacts, group meetings, demonstrations, and publications. From 2010 to present, with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency via Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the National eXtension, we incorporated the use of internet-based tools and iPhone applications in addition to 45 face-to-face programs, to deliver information on wild pigs. Many of these tools are linked with the Feral Hog Community of Practice and benefit from the collaborative effort from 23 states. We dramatically increased information delivery and audience engagement. The Feral Hogs CoP Facebook has 1820 ‘likes' and a reach of over 7,000 on some posts. Articles on Wild Wonderings Blog have a total of 49,215 views and the wild pig videos on the WFSCAgrilife YouTube channel have a combined 35,626 views. As wild pig populations continue to increase the need for rapid and widespread distribution of information will become a vital component to improve the public's knowledge of this exotic species.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Illinois landowner perceptions of feral hogs and their management
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Harper, Erin E., speaker; Miller, Craig A., speaker; Higginbotham, Billy, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    Wild pigs were first found in western Illinois in the 1990s. Since this time pig presence has been confirmed in 23 of Illinois' 102 counties and persistent populations exist in four counties. Problems associated with these animals include transfer of infectious diseases (e.g., pseudorabies) to domestic livestock, habitat destruction, and an absence of natural predators. In response to the spread of the wild pig population throughout the state, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is working to find the best management approaches for population control. To better understand landowner attitudes toward wild pigs and preferences for management approaches, we conducted a mail survey of 5,320 landowners who possess greater than one acre (.4 ha) of land from the 23 counties in which feral hogs had previously been reported to the IDNR and an additional 22 counties within close proximity to these counties. We received 3,061 (58%) usable questionnaires. Survey participants were asked attitudinal questions in relation to wild pigs and wild pig management. Responses were analyzed using Chi-squared tests, logistic regressions, and potential for conflict index (PCI2). We found significant differences (p < 0.001) between landowner type and targeted sharpshooting for both in the county where the respondents? land is located and on the respondents? land specifically. Discussion will focus on preferences for management based on personal attributes and attitudes, and potential for conflict index and what that means for the future management of wild pigs in Illinois.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A national strategy to address feral swine issues in the United States
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Nolte, Dale, speaker; Higginbotham, Billy, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    United States depart of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is serving as the lead federal agency in a cooperative effort with other federal, state, tribal, and local entities that share a common interest in reducing or eliminating problems caused by feral swine. APHIS' goal in conducting the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program is to reduce damage and risks to agriculture, natural resources, property, animal health, and human health and safety in the United States by reducing or eliminating feral swine populations, in cooperation with states, tribes, other federal agencies, organizations, and others. APHIS' strategy is to provide resources and expertise at a national level, while allowing flexibility to manage operational activities from a local or state perspective. APHIS will implement activities to reduce problems associated with feral swine in most states where they are present. In states where feral swine are emerging or populations are low, APHIS is cooperating with local and state agencies to implement strategies to eliminate them. National projects have been implemented to enable comprehensive coverage of disease monitoring, risk analysis, and economic analysis, along with other research activities on feral swine. Wildlife Services has established a baseline capacity through Wildlife Services State Programs in states with feral swine to address damage. Wildlife Services also has funded additional projects identified by Wildlife Services State Directors, along with cooperators, to address specific feral swine issues. APHIS will seek partners in all aspects of feral swine damage management.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Tennessee wild hog management
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Yoest, Chuck, speaker; Higginbotham, Billy, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    In 2010 the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) acknowledged the failure of harvest-based management to control wild hog (Sus scrofa) populations and the need to shift focus to a more aggressive statewide wild hog eradication program. Recognizing the problem was beyond the scope of the TWRA, organizations were invited to partner in the future of Tennessee's wild hog management. This nascent group focused on proven methods used in states with much smaller hog populations based on three tenets: 1) eliminating incentives to illegally transport and release wild hogs, 2) increasing opportunities for landowners to control wild hogs, 3) and outreach. Following these tenets, wild hog populations have been lowered and some disjunction pockets eliminated across the state. These accomplishments would not be possible by any entity (e.g., TWRA) acting alone. Success is due to the partnership known as the Wild Hog Eradication Action Team (WHEAT) which grew from four partners to a 24 member organization leading wild hog management in Tennessee. WHEAT brings great value to statewide implementation of the three tenets through development of hog management regulations, collaborative outreach, and lobbying. Program success is due to the diversity of partnerships and the ability to guide efforts, remove obstacles, and educate. Recent shifts in Tennessee's wild hog management likely would have failed without the contributions of WHEAT. As a result, we recommend any agencies considering major shifts in wild hog management: 1) do not implement a harvest-based program; 2) adopt the three tenets; and 3) develop an overarching, guiding partnership.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Control methods for wild pigs in the U.S.: best management practices
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Bodenchuk, Michael J., speaker; Higginbotham, Billy, moderator; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are widespread throughout the continental United States and significant efforts have been initiated to contain population spread. Removal of wild pigs in the United States is currently limited to mechanical capture methods. The Texas Cooperative Wildlife Services program implements an integrated wild pig damage management program and has investigated all current removal methods. This presentation will discuss aerial shooting, cage and corral trapping, snaring, shooting (including night shooting) and the use of dogs as control methods. The relative costs for each method implemented will be discussed in the context of a large metapopulation where additional pigs are available to replace removed animals. Costs, represented on a per pig removed basis, are lowest for turbine helicopter aerial shooting ($18.27 per pig removed), piston helicopter aerial shooting ($21.11/pig) and night shooting ($25.06) followed closely by fixed-wing aerial shooting ($26.63/pig) and daytime shooting ($29.92 /pig). Corral trapping ($46.95/pig) was more expensive than aerial or night shooting, but cost less than snaring ($62.51/pig) or drop nets ($64.91/pig). The practical application of specific methods is critical to method selection. For example, while aerial shooting may be comparatively the most cost effective method costs will be much higher when small numbers of pigs are expected and flying may not be possible in many areas due to terrain and vegetative cover. Because wild pigs in Texas exist in a large meta-population, costs for control are exacerbated by source/sink population dynamics. The removal of wild pigs in such environments requires return visits which significantly increase costs.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Wild pigs in North America: history, distribution, ecology, and challenges
    (Colorado State University. Libraries, 2014-09) Mayer, Jack, speaker; International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer
    Wild pigs belonging to the species Sus scrofa are not native to the Western Hemisphere. In spite of having had a fairly stable presence in North America during most of the 20th Century, wild pigs on this continent have undergone an explosive increase in both numbers and distribution since 1990. At present these animals are established in 36 US states, four Canadian provinces and a number of Mexican states. Similar to the original introduction from the Old World, this more recent continental increase has been largely man-made. A major part of the reason for the success of this invasive species is that wild pigs are the ultimate survivors, being highly adaptable in many aspects of their biological make-up. Given adequate seasonally-available forage resources and daily access to well-distributed water, shade and escape cover on a year-round basis, these animals are able to live in almost any habitat between the northern boreal forests of Canadian down to the tropical wet jungles of Mexico. Wild pigs have a very high reproductive rate. Finally, with respect to their diet, wild pigs are classified as an opportunistic omnivore, which effectively means that these animals will consume just about anything. Since no viable control mechanisms for pigs currently exist, this situation is only expected to get worse with time. Two future control options currently being investigated include pig-specific toxins and contraceptives. This invasive wild pig crisis has been described as one of the greatest emerging wildlife management challenges facing this continent in the 21st Century.