European wild hogs have several distinguishing characteristics that set them apart from domestic or feral hogs. Among these are brown to blackish brown color, with grizzled guard hairs, a mane of hair (8-16 cm long) running dorsally from the neck to the rump, a straight heavily tufted tail, and ears covered with hair. Characteristics of feral hogs are varied, depending upon the breed of the ancestral stock. European wild hogs and feral hogs interbreed readily, with traits of European wild hogs apparently being dominant.
Ecological Threat: Feral pigs can have detectable influences on wildlife and plant communities as well as domestic crops and livestock. Extensive disturbance of vegetation and soil occurs as a result of their rooting habits. The disturbed area may cause a shift in plant succession on the immediate site. Feral pigs also compete, to some degree, with several species of wildlife for certain foods, particularly mast.
Biology: Feral pigs generally breed year round; litters range from one to seven, averaging two per sow. An average of one to three suckling pigs accompanies brood sows. The heat period is only about 48 hours in duration and the average gestation period is 115 days.
History: Early Spanish explorers probably were the first to introduce Feral Pigs in Texas over 300 years ago. They provided an important source of cured meat and lard for settlers.
In the 1930s, European wild hogs, "Russian boars," were first imported and introduced into Texas by ranchers and sportsmen for sport hunting. Most of these eventually escaped from game ranches and began free ranging and breeding with feral hogs.
U.S. Habitat: Feral pigs have established sizeable, free-ranging populations in various places on the Rio Grande and Coastal Plains, as well as the wooded country of eastern Texas.
Native Origin: Europe
U.S. Present: California, Oregon, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky
Feral hogs are distributed throughout much of Texas, generally inhabiting the white-tailed deer range, with the highest population densities occurring in East, South and Central Texas. North and West Texas have very low or no populations. However, reports indicate that populations are beginning to expand and increase in these areas. There is currently an estimated population in excess of 1.5 million feral hogs in Texas.
Collard Peccary (Tayassu tajacu)
Hunting:Although feral hogs are not classified as game animals, a hunting license is required to hunt them. There are many hunting techniques used, including stand hunting over a baited area, stalking or still hunting over baited areas and areas indicating recent hog activity, such as wallows. Corn or milo, often soaked in water and allowed to sour and then buried underground is good bait.Night hunting with a spotlight is often used; however, the local game warden must be notified beforehand. (There are certain laws which prohibit using artificial light where deer are known to range.) Hunting with well-trained dogs is another hunting method utilized.
Trapping:Live trapping allows numerous individuals to be caught at once without active participant. Several types and designs of live traps can be utilized. The most common design is a 4 foot by 8 foot heavy duty cage with a spring door, root door, or drop door. Snares can also be used effectively when placed under fences in travelways that surround active areas; however nontarget animals may also be captured.
Other:There are currently no birth control, toxicants or repellents registered for the control of feral hogs.
Schmidly, D.J. 1994. The Mammals of Texas Online. Accessed 16 Nov. 2010: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/nsrl/tmot1/Default.htm.
Taylor, R. 2003. The Feral Hog in Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Austin, Texas.