Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OK's Feral Swine Invasion Promises Growing Agricultural Problems

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OK's Feral Swine Invasion Promises Growing Agricultural Problems

Article excerpt

Feral swine cause damage to the state's agriculture industry estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and the problem is expected to keep growing, Oklahoma Agriculture Department spokesman Jack Carson said.

But because the wild pigs are not considered part of the state's natural ecosystem, there's very little the department can do directly to alleviate the problem, he said.

In 2004, we had reports of $100,000 worth of damage from farmers and ranchers, and that estimate would have to be very low, Carson said. Because I know a few years ago we had a report of $40,000 in damage from a few peanut growers in southwestern Oklahoma. So if even one in 10 people are reporting the potential damage these feral swine are causing, I'd be surprised.

Really, there's hardly any crop that they haven't affected, he said. They've torn up a lot of alfalfa fields, peanuts, anything. I've seen pecan fields devastated. They're just going to root up whatever's out there.

Feral hogs have been confirmed in all of Oklahoma's 77 counties, Carson said. He's even had to dispatch one with a pistol in his own back yard just southeast of Norman.

The Wildlife Department defines feral hogs as any swine, including Russian and European wild boar, that are running at large and whose owners are unknown. Estimating Oklahoma's feral hog population is difficult, Carson said, because the animal reaches maturation quickly and females are able to reproduce at six months of age.

We do not have the faintest clue as to how many we have, he said. When you say it's a growing problem, that's putting it mildly.

Unfortunately for property owners, financial recovery from feral hog damage is no different from any other act of God - They're just out of luck, Carson said.

Feral swine displace the natural wildlife as they eat wild deer and turkey food. So it's appropriate that some enterprising business people have been able to make profit from the problem. …

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