Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Into the Wild: Feral Swine

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Wildlife, Nature, Biodiversity, Agriculture, Sustainability

Ed Hessler 

Feral swine. Here in Minnesota. I recently learned that Minnesota is a member of the " Feral Swine Working Group." Minnesota members include three agencies--the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Board of Animal Health and the USDA Wildlife Services. The latter agency would become involved when the Board of Animal Health can't identify the source owners and the DNR requests monitoring and removal. 

Wild pigs are an invasive species, intelligent, highly adaptable to what Minnesota offers, naturally and agriculturally. The damage they can do is considerable. I kept thinking that they are environmental bulldozers...earthmovers...destroyers..

The official designation is known as The Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and their report for 2021 can be read here which provides all the details (14pp). I found it fascinating and reassuring.

I learned all this in a feature article - Hogs Gone Wild by Deputy Editor Keith Goetzman - in the May-June 2022 Minnesota Conservation Volunteer. The article is on-line but if you subscribe or have other access I recommend you read the original. 

I'd not known we had two close calls--one "in 2009 in southwestern Minnesota," where "a 'handful' of potbelly pigs were released on private land, began breeding, and soon grew to more than 50." The second occurred "in 2016, amid the mature aspen forest, grasslands, and wetlands of West Valley Wildlife Management Area in far northwestern Minnesota." Both were eliminated. Goetzmen notes that "potbellies pop up regularly among escaped pigs."

Goetzman concludes with a discussion of why legalizing hunting is not silver bullet, indeed in the end it makes matters worse. He describes the effectiveness of Missouri's trapping program. One trapper captured "72 hogs at one time."

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