Feral Hog

Feral Hogs

Sus scrofa
Suidae (pigs) in the order Artiodactyla

The majority of feral hogs in Missouri are mutts with genetic combinations that include Russian or Eurasian wild boar (razorbacks), an assortment of domestic varieties such as Yorkshire, Hampshire or Duroc and even pot-bellied pigs. The resulting offspring exhibit a variety of shapes and colors including gray, red, black, blond, spotted and belted. All have small eyes, large triangular ears and a long snout ending in a large, round nose. They have a thick coat of coarse, bristly hair which they can erect along their spine, lending them the common name “razorback.” Most feral hogs have longer bristles than their domestic ancestors, but shorter hair than those of purebred Russian boars. Boars develop a thick, tough layer of cartilage (sometimes called a “shield”) over the shoulders, and have four sharp tusks that grow continuously, often reaching 5 inches before they break or become worn from use. The bottom tusks are formidable weapons used for defense and to establish dominance during breeding.

Height: to 3 feet at the shoulder; length: to 5 feet; weight: to 400 pounds, but most sows average 110 pounds and boars 130 pounds.
Habitat and conservation: 
Populations are small, isolated and typically in remote, rugged terrain. Feral hogs require abundant water and spend much time near seeps, ponds and streams. Problems caused by feral hogs increased in the 1990s when hogs escaped confinement or were released intentionally on public land. By 2000 private landowners were reporting significant damage. Hunters afield for other game are encouraged to shoot feral hogs on sight.
Feral hogs have a keen sense of smell and are opportunistic feeders. They forage heavily on acorns and compete directly with native species such as deer and turkey for this important fall food. They also commonly eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds and anything else they encounter, including reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. They have also been known to kill and eat deer fawns.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Populations are established in several Missouri counties. Sightings occur across the state.
Life cycle: 
Feral hogs can breed any time of year. Females can be mature at 6 months and produce two litters of one to seven piglets every 12–15 months. As a result, feral hog populations can double in four months. Although some piglets die within their first three months, feral hogs generally live to age four or five and sometimes to age eight. Feral hogs are mostly nocturnal. Sows and pigs often travel in groups called "sounders."
Human connections: 
Feral hogs damage property and can spread disease to humans, pets and livestock. Hunting specifically for feral hogs is discouraged because hunters’ activities interfere with eradication efforts. However, hunters afield for other game should shoot feral hogs on sight when they are encountered.
Ecosystem connections: 
Feral hogs pose a serious concern to land managers. Their rooting, wallowing and feeding behaviors contribute to soil erosion, reduce water quality and damage agricultural crops and hay fields, as well as destroy sensitive natural areas such as glades, fens and springs.
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