America's Rapid Feral Hog Problem Is Creating a 'Super-Pig' Uprising
From popular mechanics
America has a big problem with wild boars, including hybrid "super pigs".
The combination of wild boar and the robust fertility of farm pigs adds up to and counts 9 million wild boars.
Call your local wild boar hotline to report all pig activity.
In 30 years, wild boars have grown from 17 to 39 states and have reached a population high enough to form a "boar bomb," researchers say. We know what you are thinking:
In August 2019, Willie McNabb and his garden of wild pigs became an overnight internet sensation. But McNabb's meme led to heightened awareness of the true fact of wild boars, recently reported by The Atlantic as something that millions of Americans are concerned with and that poses a real public threat and destructive force.
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The 2017 movie Okja set up a Cujo-like super pig, but researchers say that idea is now close to reality for some groups of wild boars. This is because most wild boars in the US have some degree of hybrid between domestic pigs and wild boars, resulting in heterosis, or hybrid vigor. Britannica explains:
“The properties like size, growth rate, fertility and yield of a hybrid organism increase compared to those of its parents. Plant and animal breeders take advantage of heterosis by mating two different purebred lines that display certain desirable traits. The offspring of the first generation generally show the desired traits of both parents to a greater extent. However, this power can decrease when the hybrids are mated together. "
What results from these naturally occurring hybrids is a generation of wild boars that can have, for example, the protective fur of the wild boar and the carefully bred large litter size of the domestic pig.
McNabb specifically drew attention to Texas, which has the biggest problem with wild boar. There are an estimated 1.5 million wild boars in this state alone, and another half a million in Florida. States offer almost complete freedom, and some even offer traps, to hunters properly licensed for their firearms, who otherwise act within state gun laws.
There are similarities between wild boar and small wild cat populations in other nations. In either case, a domesticated population may still have robust young with wild species, creating a new group that is particularly harmful to farmers. In the US, even runaway herbivore populations like wild deer can wreak havoc, let alone gigantic groups of one of our smartest fellow-eaters.
The Atlantic says that the first generation of pigs to break out of farm enclosures grow tusks (usually away from farmers) and roam over a range of more than 20 miles when necessary. They even go nocturnal if circumstances so require.
And as is so often the case, human error played a role: recreational hunters imported wild boar for sport hunting. Many states now offer hotlines where residents can report 30 to 50 wild boars in their yards - or other pig observations.
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