ATLANTA — Wild hogs are running rampant in Georgia. As of November 2022, they are in every county in the state.
Georgia’s agricultural commissioner says they cause more than $100 million in damage to crops and farms each year. They also carry many infectious diseases.
Channel 2′s Tom Regan went with University of Georgia researchers who are capturing, studying and tagging the invasive species.
“Wild pigs are incredibly abundant. There are several million pigs in the United States and hundreds of thousands in Georgia,” UGA professor James Beasley said.
Each year in Georgia, the hogs ravage an estimated $150 million in crop land. The hogs don’t just destroy crops.
“They also cause other impacts to the environment through their rooting behavior where they disturb the soil. And they can carry several diseases that can affect humans, other wildlife and even livestock,” Beasley told Regan.
Beasley has been trapping and sedating feral pigs to study the ecology and impact of the animals on agriculture, habitat and native species.
The mission is to figure out the most effect means to curb wild hog populations.
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“We have a number of research projects going on, all with the broader goal to inform management approaches to control invasive species throughout the country,” Beasley said.
Wild hogs are a hybrid between the domestic pig and the Eurasian boar. They are aggressive, dangerous and have attacked other animals and occasionally humans with their tusks and razor-like teeth.
An average adult wild hog can be between 150 and 250 pounds and can run anywhere from 20 to 30 mph.
UGA master’s student Vienna Canright told Regan that wild hogs not only plunder crops, but eat birds, eggs, amphibians and bats.
“They will pretty much eat anything they come across,” Canright said.
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black told Channel 2 Action News that, over the past three years, the state has received $15 million in federal funding to devise and implement strategies to control feral pig population. They include trapping, hunting and euthanasia.
Researchers are also working on a lethal pig control bait that won’t pose a threat to other animals.
“There are some products out there that work, but you have to be careful you are not extending a greater harm or risk to other wildlife,” Black said.
In 1994, Georgia’s agriculture commissioner celebrated the eradication of the pesky boll weevil in 1994 to help cotton growers in Georgia and other Southern states. Black said he hopes to do the same with wild hogs.
“I remember attending the funeral for the boll weevil. I’d like to do that with the feral hogs, but we have a lot of work to do,” Black said.
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