Wild pigs have been present in the United States for a very long time having been originally brought in by Spanish explorers as a traveling food source. Today, they are found in most states with the majority of them being here in the southern portion of the U.S., the southeast, and all the way across to California. Over the last 35 years or so, wild pig numbers have grown at an alarming rate. Jim Cathey is an associate director for Texas A&M’s Institute of Renewable Natural Resources.
“In Texas we believe the population is about 2.6 million, 3 million, somewhere along those lines, and really no matter how many millions that is, that’s far too many when it comes to wild pigs in our state.”
Cathey says wild pig numbers took major jumps in the eighties and nineties.
“Part of that jumping also meant that wild pigs were being trailered here and there across the state as well. Sometimes I have folks that are pointing fingers. It’s the hunters that did it. It’s the landowners that did it. The truth of the matter is, both of them did it.”
Cathey says that while the pigs have provided another option to hunt a large animal, their increased numbers have worked against us in a huge way.
“Wild pigs are the most prolific large animal that we have out on the landscape today, and they can outbreed any other native deer or exotic deer that we have out there. So they’re actually driving some populations of wildlife in the opposite direction as they continue to climb.”
And Cathey notes that natural predators just aren’t there to drive down pig numbers as they are with some other animals.
“That is, a cotton tail rabbit is not nearly as formidable as a sow with piglets. So if you have something large enough like a coyote that would take a wild pig, likely they’re going to go after the piglets, or the shoats, and they’ll leave the reproductive machines, the sows and the boars alone.”
Cathey says while wild pigs have been considered a rural problem in the past, times are changing.
“We see them in suburban areas increasingly. Part of what we see is that wild pigs are adaptable, but they’re smart and they’re already using some habitat that works for them. And so there’s a whole network of creeks that go through the Bryan College Station area. Sometimes what that means is that’s an avenue into suburban neighborhoods.”
Don’t look for any reduction in wild pig numbers any time soon.