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Wild swine are credited with causing as much as $500 million in economic damage in Texas every year.
Damage costs are high
Estimates show feral swine in the United States cause more than $1.5 billion in damages and control costs each year. Damage includes rooting and wallowing that cause property damage and erosion to river banks. Feral swine eat and destroy field crops such as corn, milo, rice, watermelon, spinach, peanuts, hay, turf, and wheat. They are also efficient predators and, when given the opportunity, prey upon young livestock and other small animals, such as ground-nesting birds.
Controlling feral swine population is a major task according to USDA Biologist Fred Cunningham at the National Wildlife Research Center field station in Starkville, Mississippi. He says to maintain a constant population of feral swine, up to 70 percent of feral swine in an infested area must be eradicated.
In spite of escalated trapping efforts and intensive hunting over the last two years, population numbers across Texas continue to grow.
Earlier this year, USDA Undersecretary Edward Avalos announced that USDA is providing additional funding this year to reduce the devastating damages caused by feral, or free-ranging, swine. The $20 million program aims to help states deal with a rapidly expanding population of invasive feral swine.
"Feral swine are one of the most destructive invaders a state can have,” said Avalos. “They have expanded their range from 17 to 39 states in the last 30 years and cause damage to crops, kill young livestock, destroy property, harm natural resources, and carry diseases that threaten other animals as well as people and water supplies. It’s critical that we act now to begin appropriate management of this costly problem."