One Nation, Under Hogs

Wild swine pose massive ecological threat put provide lots of hunting fun.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Wild pigs are everywhere, and that's nothing to oink at. They root. They wallow. They eat almost anything-whitetail fawns, newborn calves, the eggs of nesting birds, not to mention acres of crops. Peanuts in Georgia. Sweet potatoes in Texas. Because they're intelligent, adaptable and prolific breeders, they're spreading. The bad news is that they carry disease. The good news? Wild hogs are oodles of fun to hunt.

"They keep spreading because people keep introducing them into new areas," says Auburn University wildlife and forestry professor Stephen Ditchkoff. He calls the wild hog, including Russian boars, "one of the greatest ecological threats we face in the United States."

Ditchkoff predicts that within 10 years wild hogs will be found in all 50 states. In 1982, at least 18 states reported having them. Today, at least 31 states are infested, and the estimated nationwide population is as high as 5 million.

"I even have reports of hogs in Alaska," says Ditchkoff, who has organized the National Conference on Wild Hogs, a three-day meeting May 21-23 in Mobile, Ala. (sfws.auburn.edu/wild pigconf). There, more than 200 state biologists will discuss how to manage the crisis.

Not without a sense of humor, Ditchkoff is looking forward to a presentation to be given by Australian biologists. "The paper's titled 'Bacon Busting Down Under,'" he says.