Academic journal article Suffolk Transnational Law Review

The Three (Million) Little Pigs: Why the United States Must Do More Than Huff and Puff

Academic journal article Suffolk Transnational Law Review

The Three (Million) Little Pigs: Why the United States Must Do More Than Huff and Puff

Article excerpt


It reads like a war novel. A strange and foreign being has landed on U.S. soil, bent on destroying everything in her path. One moment she is a distant figure in the dark; the next, you can hear the wind glance off her fangs. Some 300 pounds of sinew and bristle, nerve and hunger, she is the greatest ecological threat stalking the American wild. She is a keen hybrid: feral yet adaptive, vicious yet intelligent, aggressive and spreading like fire. She is the wild pig.

The United States is no stranger to non-native invasive species. (1) Through legislation and Executive Orders, the country has managed to mitigate the damage wrought by plants and animals that threaten the ecosystem and pose dangers to humans. (2) However, the bulk of effective national legislation has focused on aquatic life forms whose main threats, while serious, lie in their disruption of infrastructure and pollution of the environment. (3) Never before has a Federal statute been constructed that could reign in the havoc wreaked by the most prolific large mammal in the American landscape. (4) If the nation is to have any hope of reclaiming its land from the jowls of this savage hunter, it will have to follow the lead of Australia, a nation that has managed, through legislation, to fence in the devastation caused by this cunning beast. (5) Section

II of this note will present the wild pig as a species, detailing its introduction to North America, the scope of damage it leaves in its wake, and current management tactics in both the U.S. and Australia. (6) Section III will present the history of U.S. legislation aimed at managing invasive species, both in general and in this specific case, and will outline Australia's legislative history addressing like management. (7) Section IV will analyze the results and explain the benefits of adapting Australian measures on U.S. soil. (8)

II. Facts

A. Sus Scrofa: The Wild Pig

1. Introduction to the Continental United States

North America's only native wild pig is the collared peccary, Tayassu tajacu. (9) The first domestic hogs in the Americas were introduced by European explorers in the 16th century; the release of these hogs' descendants forms the earliest source of wild pig populations in the Continental U.S. (10) Aside from these early releases, however, the vast majority of wild pig entrances is due to open range practices by farmers and settlers, continuing into the mid-1900's. (11) The establishment of Eurasian wild boar populations likely resulted from importation into North Carolina from Germany in the early 20th century. (12) The variety of wild pigs in the United States today, referred to taxonomically as Sus Scrofa, represents the interbreeding of these Eurasian wild boars and the feral descendants of the early explorers' hogs. (13)

2. Nomenclature and Identification

Within the genus Sus, sixteen or seventeen species have been identified, roughly falling into four categories. (14) Sus Scrofa, truly a composite of several disparate lines, varies widely in appearance. (15) Male wild pigs possess continually growing upper and lower canine teeth, or tusks, which grow upward and sharpen due to friction; lower tusks can grow to be an average of 185mm. (16) Males typically compete aggressively over food and breeding, leading to tusk scars on adult male bodies. (17)

Average physical dimensions vary once again, although typical weights for adults range from seventy-five to 250 pounds, with lengths ranging from fifty to seventy-five inches. (18) Individual wild pigs can grow much larger, beyond 800 pounds in some cases. (19) Many outlier weights result from the intentional feeding of captive pigs which are later illegally released into the wild. (20)

B. Damage

I. Economy

Attempting to pinpoint national figures on damage poses problems that serve as a microcosm for the larger issue surrounding the wild pig's management: numbers appear to exist solely on a state-by-state basis and they increase too rapidly for documentation--even under the purview of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), studies and presentations tend to reflect individual states' research and concerns. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.