Also of major concern is the spread of Brucellosis suis, a disease in swine that can cause infertility in boars and abortions in sows. But feral hogs can also carry Brucellosis abortus, the beef cattle form of the virus, a serious threat to cattle operations. Other disease concerns include porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, trichinosis and influenza.

Another major concern is contamination of water sources and serious crop damage attributed to feral hog populations. Texas Animal Health Commission officials say numerous cases of E. coli pathogens in water sources can be directly attributed to feral hog contamination, and Texas Department of Agriculture officials warn crop damage is on the rise as a result of rooting in fields.

Animal health officials are advising farmers and ranchers to take steps to help control feral hogs. Establishing barriers and quality fences around domestic swine may help in keeping them segregated from wild hogs. Since wild hogs are attracted to any food source, cleaning up food around bins is another step farmers and ranchers should take, and as well as to secure feed storage areas to prevent easy access. But Bectin says the first step in effective prevention is to be diligent in spotting the signs of feral hogs on your property and reporting them to local wildlife officials who may offer help.

TDA officials say nearly 25,000 feral hogs were destroyed last year in Texas, but the population is growing at such an elevated rate that more must be done to avoid the potential of a serious health risk to both domestic animals and humans.

For additional resources, visit www.feralhogs.tamu.edu.