Feral Swine

I received a question recently that I thought I’d share.

Subject: Feral pigs/hogs

Does the Arizona Department of Agriculture have anything to do with feral pigs/hogs? Such as management control or hunting of such animals? Thank you.

Feral swine are specifically excluded from the definition of livestock by state statute. They also do not fall under the jurisdiction of AZ Game and Fish Department. As such there is no regulated hunting season. So by default they are “free game” – provided you are operating within any other pertinent matters of law (e.g. discharging firearms within certain areas, etc.)

Now for some elaboration on subject and the problems feral swine present.

Nature’s own rototillers can do some serious landscaping (as my mother’s yard and garden often bore witness to). Feral swine can be very destructive – a special concern for those folks charged with maintaining areas of riparian habitat within Arizona.

Additionally they present a huge potential for spreading certain diseases (primarily pseudorabies (PRV) and brucellosis). The public, through various state and federal agencies over the course of a few decades, has spent several millions of dollars to control and/or eradicate these diseases from our domestic/commercial swine herds.

A cooperative program among industry, state and federal agencies to eradicate PRV was begun in 1989. PRV was declared eliminated from the commercial herd in USA in 2005. Total cost of the disease was estimated to have been $30 million annually through that period. Obviously this is not something anyone wants back into commercial swine in the USA. But because the feral swine population does harbor the disease, the risk is real; and the threat to the commercial herd grows with the growing presence of feral swine.

There are monitoring programs of feral swine that are on-going for these diseases.

For more than 15 years, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has provided feral swine management and support at the state and local level.  While these efforts have helped alleviate localized damage, the overall feral swine population has continued to increase exponentially, and the problems they cause have become national in scope.

And concern is growing as the populations of feral swine have grown and spread. So efforts are being launched to figure out what best to do.

To more effectively address the damage and disease risks associated with this invasive species, APHIS is considering implementing a nationally coordinated feral swine damage management program in partnership with States and Tribes.

An open meeting will be held in the near future, details can be found here.

You can also find more information here as to the problem they present, along with its scope and cost.

And don’t forget to enjoy the ride (even on a hog – my uncle did often as a child!)