Feral pigs

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials say feral pigs pose a risk to indigenous wildlife as well as humans through contact with agricultural crops. The species is considered to be invasive.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials are hopeful this week after recent operations to cull feral swine populations in the area of Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. This September, the battle was apparently won without firing a single shot.

Since 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has deployed aerial snipers to Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge in an effort to cull the region’s population of feral swine. There have been seven such operations in the past three years, with early operations netting as many as 80 pigs each. According to Refuge Manager Rich Meyers, such operations have played a large role in reducing feral swine populations, and each successive operation has resulted in fewer kills as those populations dwindle. This year, there were none.

“They didn’t find a single pig,” Meyers said Thursday. “It’s what we’ve been hoping for. (The USDA) went up for three days before they were done.”

Feral swine cool themselves by wallowing on the bank of the Colorado River during the Lake Havasu Region’s blistering summer heat – and it’s one of the first things U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials look for when searching for feral pigs. None were found last month before the operation began, Meyers said.

“Their number has steadily been decreasing over the years,” Meyers said. “We have ground-trappers on the ground year-round, and cameras to monitor for feral hogs. We haven’t seen a sign of them since the operation ended in September.”

According to Meyers, that may not mean feral pigs are absent from the refuge – for months after each operation, swine have been known to hide in the thick brush throughout Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. But it appears to be a positive sign.

“We looked throughout the entire refuge, from Mesquite Bay to Fort Mohave,” Meyers said. “So far, we haven’t seen a single one.”

According to USDA records released last year, a typical three-day culling operation at the refuge cost taxpayers almost $25,000 in 2019. That cost included the price of transportation, maintenance and use of a helicopter, fuel, pilot and crew salaries, ammunition, travel vouchers and lodging for USDA agents.

“There’s no way we could have done this without the USDA,” Meyers said. “Since I’ve been here, the USDA has taken out about 300 to 400 of them.”

Feral swine are not considered to be “wild” native species, and do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. They are also not considered to be “domesticated” under Arizona statute, and do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Arizona Department of Agriculture. The animals are either domesticated swine who have either escaped captivity or been released – or the descendants of escaped swine.

Culling operations are performed by the USDA through a $20 million federal budget initiative specifically designated for the eradication of feral swine.

Feral swine are known to damage the habitat of indigenous species, and pose a threat to nesting endangered species, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They are also known to transmit pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli to humans through direct contact, or through contact with agricultural goods produced by humans.

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(6) comments

Sonny

Thanks for the input folks. I changed my mind and I don't want a pig. I think my dog would make it mean and he can't eat bacon[beam]

Sonny

I always thought that a pig could be fed anything but certain food is not good for them.

after doing a little research. I saw my grandma and grandpa feed them everything that was scrap at the farm. Just did a little research incase I want to get a pet pig[smile]

Hcarolyn

IF you get one it has to be very young and handled a lot - otherwise they get mean [Dr. Poll explained this to a woman who got a baby pig from a breeder and even as a baby it had a very bad temper].

tomgarven

So true Hcarolyn. A very long time ago I raised about 600-1000 head of pigs every year and pure bred Yorkshires for show. Still have some of those Grand Champion ribbons around somewhere. And yes pigs can be mean but some do get along quite well with humans, ha ha.

tomgarven

Hi Sonny: Pigs can and do eat just about anything including meat! However most of their diet is made up of grains and things like bone meal which helps reduce their natural tendency to take a bite out anything close by, ha ha. They really love alfalfa which to them is like ice cream to us humans. And given a clean place to live they can be a very clean animal and will naturally select one location for their bathroom duties. Never had one as a pet since their life span is quite short before they become so big they become unmanageable. And if you are the type of person who gets easily attached to an animal then before you know it they have outgrown your environment and need to become bacon and hams on someone's dinner table. But I had many which were very gentle and loved to be pet and have their backs scratched. There were of course those that would just as soon take a bite out of you, ha ha.

Today most pigs are grown in small pens so they pack on the lbs quickly for market. Whenever possible I would let mine outside during the summer months and they loved to free range with cattle. My purebred Yorkshires were all white and would have a tendency to get sunburned if they stayed in the sunlight for too long. And they do suffer from weak hips and some other swine ailments. It is also recommended that the front teeth be clipped to prevent tusks and the males need to be castrated if you ever plan on selling the animal for food consumption.

Pigs do well up to about 80 or 90 degrees in the summer months but 100 degrees is pushing their tolerance for heat. So in Havasu they would need an air conditioned or cooled space or a shaded water environment like the wild pigs we have along the Colorado River. And those wild pigs should NEVER be trusted. The best advice I could offer would be to stay clear of them if you ever see one. A wild pig is or can be expected to be carnivorous and their bit can leave you with huge hole in your leg. They have a powerful bite which can crush a 2 X 4 piece of lumber.

Would I have one as a pet? Nope, I don't think so since just about the time you get it trained it would be about time to put it in the freezer for a later dinner [sad]

tomgarven

Just ask any farm kid this question - are pigs smart. They will most likely tell you that; "Pigs are smarter than any other domestic animal. Their ability to solve problems, like the pig I.Q. test on The Joy of Pigs, is well-documented, and they are considered by animal experts to be more trainable than dogs or cats". AND "Pigs outperform 3-year-old human children on cognition tests and are smarter than any domestic animal, and animal experts consider them more trainable than cats or dogs." END QUOTES

So how long does it take for a pig to learn what happens when they hear a helicopter overhead or the sound of rifle shot? We might want to ask our wildlife experts this question, LOL.

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