Going feral

Cyndi’s Two Cents

Going feral


“There’s nothing meaner than a biting sow.”

I’m not sure which one of my college friends made that statement back in the early 1980’s, but I wholeheartedly agreed. My family raised hogs for many years. If I close my eyes I can remember the clanging of metal lids on feeders throughout night, as heard through the window of the childhood bedroom I shared with my sisters.

Raising hogs – producing pork – has changed a great deal in the past few decades.

You have to wonder what those early European settlers and explorers who first introduced hogs to the United States in the 1500’s would think of modern pork production. Who could have known that more than 28 BILLION pounds of pork would be produced in the United States in 2020? And on the other side of the coin, who would have guessed that the damage caused by escaped or released hogs in the United States would cost well over 1.5 BILLION dollars?

Over the past several years feral hogs have swiftly expanded their range. Often referred to as the most destructive invasive species in the United States, feral hogs will eat almost any field crop, vegetable, fruit, and nut. They root, trample, forage and wallow crop fields, orchards, vineyards, and pastures. Their behavior kills off the desired plants while often encouraging the growth of weeds. The ruts they leave can cause erosion and can make it nearly impossible to harvest what is left of a hay field.

The rooting, trampling, foraging, and wallowing of feral hogs can alter timber land.

Feral hogs compete with native wildlife for food, water, and habitat. They hunt and eat small mammals and ground nesting birds such as quail and turkeys. They eat snakes, lizards, and frogs.

Feral hogs can kill young calves, lambs, and adult animals during times of vulnerability, such as when calving or lambing. They are known to carry at least 30 bacterial and viral diseases and 40 parasites that can be transmitted to livestock, wildlife, pets and even humans.

Feral hogs eat or contaminate livestock feed and mineral. They destroy or do extensive damage to fences, irrigation lines, equipment and structures on farms, golf courses, cemeteries, and state parks. There have been numerous reports of aggressive behavior or attacks on farmers and ranchers, golfers, and hikers.  There have been a few reports of feral hog attacks on people in small, rural towns.

Numerous state and federal agencies, agricultural associations and individual farmers and landowners have undertaken the daunting task of managing and controlling damages caused by this formidable foe.

There are varying scientific opinions on just exactly how long it takes a domestic hog that escapes or is released into the wild to become “feral”. Once exposed to the different environment, some hogs will begin to grow longer and coarser hair, grow tusks and become aggressive within 30 days. Some say within 2 generations, the species reverts to its feral origin.

I wonder how much time it takes a human, exposed to a new and/or different environment, to become a completely different person? Whether that is becoming “feral” or completely accepting of “the way things are” because government, the mass media, academia, peers, or the workplace says so?

From personal observation, I can tell you it doesn’t take long.

If given a choice between the 2. . . I’d choose feral.