Feral hogs cause up to $2.5 billion in damage a year, so the government is boosting efforts to fight them

Feral hogs cause up to $2.5 billion in damage a year, so the government is boosting efforts to fight them

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Published: 6:34 PM ET Fri, 3 Aug 2018

  • Wild hogs are in at least 39 states and cause up to $2.5 billion in damage annually.
  • More than 5 million of the feral swine roam the U.S., with Texas having the biggest share.
  • The pigs are a menace for agriculture but also a health risk and threat to native wildlife.
  • The federal government is spending about $30.5 million annually to fight the problem and may get more money from the 2018 farm bill.

If wild pigs could fly, Texas farmer Richard Beyer wishes they would travel far, far away. He grows corn, cotton, rice and grain sorghum along the Gulf Coast and estimates damage from feral swine can sometimes wipe out one-fifth of his crop.

"They root up and make holes and tear up cotton fields," he said. "For corn, rice and grain sorghum, they are pretty terrible on it too."

Beyer said feral swine have been around as long as he can remember but it used to be one or two caught occasionally in fields and they were manageable. "They've gotten a lot worse — so bad that you can't hardly trap them anymore because the numbers are so big."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates feral swine costs about $1.5 billion in damage annually, although experts at the University of Georgia suggest the cost maybe closer to between $2 billion to $2.5 billion. The damage to agriculture is estimated at just under $1 billion annually.

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