Experts worry the U.S. feral pig population is quickly getting out of hand

Feral Hogs

Booming populations of wild pigs have experts warning of a ‘feral swine bomb’ waiting to go off in the U.S. if the something is not done.

“I’ve heard it referred to as a feral swine bomb,” says Dale Nolte, manager of the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program at the USDA. “They multiply so rapidly. To go from a thousand to two thousand, it’s not a big deal. But if you’ve got a million, it doesn’t take long to get to 4 (million), then 8 million.”

The USDA estimates there are about 9 million feral hogs in the United States and those hogs do a total of about $2.5 billion in damage annually. Both the total population of hogs, and the damage they cause, are expected to continue to rise rapidly.

Additionally, 30 years ago, only 17 states had feral hog populations, now, at least 39 states do.

Experts have also grown weary of the genetics of the wild pigs. They are a mix of domestic big breeds and European wild boars, a mix that has resulted in smarter, more rugged and more fertile swines.

“The problem with the hybrids is you get all of the massive benefits of all of that genetics,” Ryan Brook, a University of Saskatchewan biologist, told The Atlantic. “It creates what we’d call super-pigs.”