Wild Hog Population in the US Surges About 9 Million, Worrying Experts

Getty Images

As the numbers of the feral pigs rises, the damage will get worse, the US Department of Agriculture says.

The wild hog population is rising to a point so concerning it's being described as a “feral swine bomb,” as the animals are multiplying at faster rates than expected in America. Experts say there are roughly 9 million feral pigs in America. The invasive species already costs the U.S. an estimated $2.5 billion each year in damages and control costs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As the numbers of the feral pigs rises, the damage will get worse, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

“I’ve heard it referred to as a feral swine bomb,” Dale Nolte, manager of the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program at the USDA, told the New York Post. “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 wild hogs can cause major damage to property, crops, livestock, native species and ecosystems and cultural and historic resources, according to the USDA. They are also a threat to humans and over livestock.

Ryan Brook, a University of Saskatchewan biologist who researches wild pigs, also spoke to the Post and said that the wild hogs are a hybrid species made up of domestic and European breeds.

“The problem with the hybrids is you get all of the massive benefits of all of that genetics,” Brook said. “It creates what we’d call ‘super-pigs.’”

Pigs are known for their keen intelligence, but so-called “super-pigs” might be smarter and have a sharp sense of smell. They also have a thick layer of fur, which helps them survive in the wild.

“Pig populations are completely out of control,” Brook told the Post. “The efforts to deal with them are about 1% of what’s currently needed.”