Protecting Man’s Best Friend

By Judy Wade

The feral hog population in Oklahoma is estimated to be between 600,000 and 1.5 million, according to a recent Noble Foundation newsletter. Although seven counties in the panhandle and extreme northwestern Oklahoma are considered “hog free zones,” the porcines live in all 77 Oklahoma counties.

News on 6 reports these swine are costing $1.5 billion each year in agricultural and livestock losses. They are carriers of diseases such as brucellosis, leptospirosis and pseudorabies that can be passed on to people and other animals as well as carrying and transmitting other diseases. They compete with other animals for food resources.

On the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website, “Jeff Pennington, a biologist with the Oklahoma Wildlife Department, said eradication is not realistic. A realistic goal is to slow the spread and reduce the density of feral hogs.”

Eradication is not realistic for several reasons:

  • Feral hogs can live anywhere
  • They will eat almost anything
  • They can reproduce rapidly
  • Both sexes are sexually mature as early as six months
  • Litter sizes average six, but can be three to eight
  • Females can give birth twice a year
  • They have a low mortality rate with the average life span of four to eight years
  • Feral hogs have few natural enemies.

Learn more about protecting man’s best friend in the latest issue of OKFR!