Porcine Press – Hogs Gone Wild

November 19, 2014

Here’s something I haven’t done in a while, an edition of Porcine Press, collecting wild hog news from around the world.

My news feeds light up fairly constantly with stories about feral hogs, wild boar, and various related topics.  While many of us here in the U.S. tend to focus on what’s happening here in our own country, wild pigs make news all around the world.

We’ll start off in Vietnam, where there have been a couple of deadly encounters between rural folks and wild boar.  The encounters have left two people dead, and one woman in the hospital.  There aren’t many details available to explain what may have provoked the attacks, although in the one case, it appears that the boar was being pursued by hunters and the woman simply got in the way.  In the other case, a boy was killed and a woman seriously injured, possibly by the same boar.  Unfortunately, there were no witnesses when the boy was killed, so exactly what happened will remain a mystery.

In reading these articles, as well as other articles about boar attacks in China and in India, it sounds like the issue stems from a combination of human encroachment on the habitat and a resurgence in the wild boar populations.  In China, particularly, it looks like the hogs are showing up more and more frequently in cities.  In one case, police officers shooting at a boar in the city of Fuqing accidentally hit a bystander.  This article from the UK’s Daily Mail, includes surveillance video that, while not especially graphic, is sort of heart-rending (particularly when you see the guy with his kid who, despite seeing the woman in obvious distress, pick up the pace and keep walking).  I still don’t understand why law enforcement operating in urban settings don’t use frangible bullets.

Moving westward…

While visiting Ireland last year, I was continually impressed by the wildness of much of the countryside, and by the apparent lack of visible wild game.  I know there is game there, of course, and I’ve even researched the possibility of taking a hunting vacation there one day (not likely to happen, but fun to dream about).   Of course, the daydreams usually revolve around red stag or fallow deer, but I couldn’t help thinking that some large parts of the country would be perfect habitat for wild boar… even though wild boar are, apparently, not native to Ireland.  Nevertheless, it turns out that Ireland may be facing some of the same problems that we do in the States, with the release (intentional or not) of wild boar by hunting interests.

This recent article from the Limerick Leader describes the conflicts that can arise when these animals are cut loose on the landscape.

The island is unoccupied for most of the year but some local families own property there. Since their arrival in the past two or three weeks, the boar have done extensive damage to part of this property.

“They have destroyed the lawns and the garden. A tractor and plough wouldn’t do the kind of damage they did,” commented Sgt Callanan.

The sources in the article believe the boar were brought to the island by boat and intentionally released, but it seems to me that the animals could have just as easily made the swim themselves.  You wouldn’t necessarily think it, but hogs are pretty good swimmers.

Back over on The Continent, wild boar are creating another kind of problem… disease.  In several parts of northern Europe, wild boar have been turning up with African Swine Fever.  The outbreak has cut a pretty clear swath across the continent, from Azerbaijan to Finland, bringing with it serious threats to the pork industry.   As the disease spreads from the wild pigs to domestic stock, quarantines and liquidation are the typical result.  For example, Belarus recently suspended pork exports to Russia, due to the occurrence of the disease in the domestic herds.  In Zambia, entire herds are being eradicated.

It’s all a pretty good indication of the real threat that the spread of feral hogs implies here in the US.  While habitat and property damage are certainly valid concerns, the most devastating potential is the infection of domestic pigs with swine diseases… and the huge impact that would have on the US pork industry.  Fortunately, so far, African Swine Fever has not shown up here (and it probably won’t).  But there are plenty of other diseases that aren’t uncommon in feral/wild hogs, and they can be just as devastating to pig farmers.  An outbreak of pseudo rabies, for example, will shut down an entire pig farm… and possibly every farm in the affected region.  The simple threat of an outbreak can be enough to freeze exports and production, and entire herds will have to be eradicated.  It’s a pretty big deal.

So that’s enough for now.


One Response to “Porcine Press – Hogs Gone Wild”

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