30-50 feral pigs are the Donald Trumps of coronaviruses

Feral pigs are the crying-wolf excuse for some firearm owners, as though the average hunter needed a modern sporting rifle (semi-auto long gun with large capacity magazine) to defend their home and children against predator species. Then there’s Kenosha’s 17 year-old killer and his AR-15 pattern rifle with 30-round magazine.

The meme of marauding feral pigs emerged after the spate of mass shootings by domestic terrorists with the accompanying worry that something, something (liberal regulatory state) was going to come and confiscate your guns. It still hasn’t even with the help of Russian spies.

The reality is that hunters have contributed to the problem of an exploding feral pig population and shooting more and faster even from a helicopter isn’t going to stop them. The reality is that the original rationalizations by ranchers for killing predator species by humans might be the actual issue.

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“Feral Swine Bomb”

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An excellent January article in Sports Illustrated describes the stupidity of capitalist entrepreneurship in the midst of an actual infestation. Cottage industries combining helicopters and shooting pigs as hunting preserve activity while lucrative does little to actually reduce invasive numbers. The issue of public versus private lands “allowing” the harvesting of such pigs creates its own problems, including hunters seeding public and private areas with captured pigs.

Think of Jared Kushner as trying to sell you helicopter rides to shoot pigs that reproduce faster than the time it takes to get in the air. Meanwhile Don Junior has shot all the natural predators for those feral pigs.

the pigs are collecting brass out in the field, planning to someday retaliate

Wild pigs—a catchall term, synonymous with “feral hogs” or “razorbacks,” that includes escaped domesticated swine and their descendants; wild boars; and crossbreeds between the two—are not typical pigs, or even typical wild animals. Compared with the pigs found on farms and in children’s books, they have thicker hides, leaner builds, longer and darker hair, and sometimes tusks. An average wild pig weighs around 150 pounds, but it’s not unusual to see triple that. As species go, they’re aggressively invasive and, crucially, prodigious, able to breed at less than 12 months old, producing an average of two five-to-six-pig litters every two years. World over, the wild pig population is estimated between seven and eight million, of which some 2.6 million could reasonably consider themselves Texans.

Which wouldn’t be such a problem except that wild pigs don’t become a part of their environment so much as they rampage through it. They have incredible senses of smell, aggressively omnivorous appetites and athletic capabilities that leave them nearly impossible to control. They can scale five-feet-high fences or burrow through almost anything they can get their noses under. They wreck barriers, freeing livestock and other animals, to whom they may pass on any of dozens of diseases and parasites, or whose young they may settle on as meals. Feral hogs can disrupt entire ecosystems by competing with local wildlife for vegetation or by rooting out seedlings. Although they typically flee from and rarely bother humans (the 2019 death of a Texas woman in a hog attack was an outlier; Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes’s recent hog-related injury was tied to his trapping a pig), they still wreak havoc on any number of man’s pursuits, destroying historical sites, ripping up golf courses, contaminating water supplies. They decimate crops, devouring fields of corn, sugarcane, wheat, oats, melons, pumpkins and whatever else they find appetizing, typically leaving farmland too ravaged to reharvest. It’s not unheard of for a farmer to take a $70,000 hit overnight. In fact, the federal estimate of the total annual damage done by wild pigs is $1.5 billion. One USDA researcher has called them “the worst invasive species we’ll ever see.”

[…]

Wild pigs, by all accounts, make entertaining quarry for these sportsmen. They’re smart, elusive and faster than you think—up to 30 mph at a sprint. And that very appeal is, essentially, the root of the whole problem. America’s love of pigs as sport-hunting fodder has sowed a situation it can’t shoot its way out of. And might not want to.

[…]

The biggest contributors to the problem, though, says Higginbotham, were scofflaw hunters. The more they enjoyed hunting wild pigs, the more places they sought to do so. That meant trapping loose swine where they already lived and releasing them where they did not, to seed new populations. Suddenly, the people most interested in killing wild pigs were expanding the animals’ territory even faster than the pigs could themselves

www.si.com/…

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