Feral Hogs

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Feral hogs (feral pigs, wild pigs, wild boar, etc.) in Virginia are defined as “any swine that are wild or for which no proof of ownership can be made” (see 4VAC15-20-160). Color coat and origin are not important; a loose group of domestic hogs can quickly take on feral characteristics and transition to a thriving, wild population in only a few generations. Any loose hog in the wild is bad news to wildlife and habitat resources.

Virginia is on the front lines of the northward spread of feral hogs in the eastern United States. Feral hogs are detrimental to natural habitats and endangered native plant and animal species. Once established, they are nearly impossible to eradicate. Adult feral hogs have no natural predators aside from humans and exhibit very high reproductive potential. A population can triple in size in 14—16 months. Seventy percent of a population must be removed each year to stabilize growth.

Feral hogs are not only a risk to Virginia's native wildlife resources, but also to the health of our commercial pork industry. They can harbor many diseases and parasites including swine brucellosis, pseudorabies, Trichinella, and toxoplasmosis, some of which are transmissible to livestock, pets, wildlife, or humans. Feral hogs can cause extensive crop damage and pose threats to health of livestock and farm equipment from rooting damage to fields, fences, and pastures.

The VDGIF has teamed with partner state and federal natural resource agencies and created a feral hog committee comprised of wildlife biologists and conservation police officers to address the growing feral hog problem in Virginia. Hogs are not migratory animals; new populations that mysteriously appear are most likely the result of loose domestic hogs or people intentionally moving and releasing hogs for sporting purposes. We must identify solutions to address how to stop new populations of hogs from appearing in the wild as well as continue to work with partner agencies to develop effective control and eradication strategies. Please report any loose domestic (livestock) hogs or potential feral hogs to the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline at 1-855-571-9003. Below you can find the most up-to-date information regarding feral hogs and our efforts to combat this growing problem.