Nebraska Feral Hogs Pose Economic, Health Threat

Nebraska Feral Hogs Pose Economic, Health Threat

May 1, 2009

 

Feral hog
Nebraska feral hog. (Images from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Nebraska Invasive Species Project)
Corn field damaged by feral hog rooting
Corn field damaged from feral hogs rooting for food.
Nebraska map showing four counties where feral hogs have been found
Feral hogs have been found in Harlan, Valley, Nance, and Seward counties in Nebraska.

Feral hogs, which include Eurasian wild boars and feral domestic hogs, are quickly becoming an economic and ecological threat to Nebraska. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) has confirmed the presence of feral hogs in at least four Nebraska counties and is asking landowners to contact the Commission if they suspect feral hogs are in their area.

Damages from feral hog populations have been estimated nationally at $800 million annually. Free-ranging populations of wild hogs exist in at least 39 states, and experts estimate their numbers at over 4 million, with the largest populations located in California, Florida, Hawaii, and Texas.

 

Difficult to Control

Regular surveillance and rapid notification is essential as feral hogs are nearly impossible to eradicate once established. Feral hogs have the highest reproductive rate of any large mammal in North America and are capable of surviving and reproducing in Nebraska winters.

 

Feral Hogs Damage Crops, Carry Disease

Feral hogs damage crops, pastures, lawns, and gardens and can cause serious erosion to river banks and streams. They carry diseases that threaten livestock, humans, pets, and native wildlife.

This year pseudorabies was detected in Nebraska feral hog populations. A fatal disease in hogs, cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and cats, pseudorabies does not affect people and is not related to rabies. It is of great economic importance to domestic hog producers as reinfection of domestic hogs with pseudorabies would be economically devastating to the pork industry.

Swine brucellosis, another disease carried by wild hogs, is a threat to domestic hogs and can be transmitted to other livestock as well. Humans are also susceptible to swine brucellosis through the handling of infected tissues. This disease poses a profit loss to hog producers and a public health concern.

 

Nebraska's Feral Hogs

Feral hogs have been found in Harlan, Valley, Nance, and Seward counties. These hogs are not a natural expansion of feral hog populations from the southern U.S., but rather are escaped domestic hogs living in the wild or have been illegally transported to Nebraska.

Through illegal transportation and releases, escape from exotic hunting enclosures, or escape from domestic swine facilities, feral hogs have spread rapidly throughout the United States. Their high reproductive rate and adaptability make them difficult to control. In Nebraska, the prevention of potential invasion and eradication of current populations are the only cost-effective management methods.

 

Regulations and Control of Feral Hogs

It is illegal to transport, release, or hunt feral hogs for sport in Nebraska. If you suspect feral hogs on your property or would like more information, please contact the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission at (402) 471-5174 or email the Nebraska Invasive Species Project at invasives@unl.edu. As directed by the Nebraska State Legislature, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is working to eliminate feral hog populations in the state. With your help, the threat of feral hogs can be reduced or eliminated.

For more information about this and related topics, please visit:

Annabel Lee Major, Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Nebraska Invasive Species Project
Sam Wilson, Furbearing and Non-game Mammals Program Manager
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission