North Georgia Wildlife Part 6 (Wild hogs)

 

Most wild hogs are domestic hogs which have escaped into the wild or have been released for hunting purposes. Their size and color vary and depend on their domestic breed and their nutrition during development. The number of generations that have lived in the wild also seems to influence their appearance. Descendants from stock animals whose ancestry has been in the wild for generations or even centuries tend to have the classic long snout and lean appearance.

Eurasian wild hogs sometimes referred to as Russian boar differ in appearance from the average hog in Georgia. This wild hog usually has longer legs, a larger head and a longer, flatter snout. Eurasian piglets are reddish brown with black stripes. As the piglets mature the stripes disappear and their color changes to gray or black. Eurasian hogs generally have longer hair and a more distinct mane running from their neck to the base of their tail. In recent years the illegal transportation and stocking of wild hogs statewide has increased dramatically. As a result more hybridization has occurred and only a few hogs of the pure Eurasian strain are found in Georgia. However, the hybrid offspring has retained many characteristics of the Eurasian wild hogs.

Wild hogs can weight 100 to 500+ pounds. Very large hogs 500+ pounds are generally from domestic stock. Hogs can begin breeding at 6 months and have a litter of generally 4-8, but Eurasian hogs can have as many as 13. They very in color from solid black, gray/black, brown, blond, white, red, and spotted. There tracks are similar to deer except their toes have more round or blunt tips and are often widely splayed. Wild hogs will eat almost anything including plants, worms, insects, larvae, small mammals, newborns of larger mammals, eggs,  and ground-nesting birds and reptiles

Wild hogs are susceptible to a variety of diseases and parasites in Georgia. Hogs can carry the nematode, Trichinella spiralis which can cause trichinosis in people. Although it’s rare in Georgia people can get trichinosis by consuming undercooked pork containing the parasite. However two of the more serious diseases found in Georgia are swine brucellosis and pseudorabies. Swine brucellosis and pseudorabies are both transmissible to domestic pigs and swine brucellosis can be transmitted to people. Hunters are at risk for swine brucellosis when they clean or process wild hogs and should take the following precautions:
1. Always wear disposable plastic or rubber gloves when dressing and cleaning wild hogs. Avoid direct skin contact with blood and reproductive organs.
2. As soon as possible wash hands with soap and hot water after handling.
3. Gloves should be properly disposed of in a trash can that is going to a landfill.
4. Cook meat from hogs thoroughly to a minimum internal temperature of 170 degrees F.

Wild hogs also cause a great amount of damage. Damage caused by wild hogs has been reported in many Georgia counties including the North Georgia Mountains. Since wild hogs compete heavily with deer, hogs can be extremely detrimental to deer management programs. They destroy, eliminate, and prevent the reestablishment of valuable native plants and animals including threatened and endangered species and contribute to sedimentation and bacterial contamination of natural waterways. There are currently no repellents for the control of wild hogs. Electric fencing or hog wire fencing may be used but has limited protection to crops or plants.

 

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