Learning To Love Feral Hogs

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks, 3 days ago

We’ve discussed the contradictions, confusion and befuddlement in the rewilding movement before.  From the destruction of dams in California in an attempt to save the river fish, only to introduce beavers who then build dams, to the massive solar farms that divert water and kill plant species making for essentially dead deserts, they can’t seem to make their minds up about much of anything except that they hate humans.

The reintroduction of wolves into Colorado has peaked the interest of rewilders everywhere. In fact, it’s practically romantic.

“It was so perfect. You could look around, and it felt like at any moment John Denver was going to show up. It was ‘Rocky Mountain High’ in every direction,” said Joanna Lambert, a wildlife ecology and conservation biology professor at University of Colorado Boulder and director of the American Canid Project. The stars rolled up last: five wolves, silent in their crates but omnipotent in the waft of their musky aroma. It smelled like the wild, Lambert observed.

But why would they care? Well, you see, they think it’s better for the environment.

The study was conducted by scientists at CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources, focusing on the effects of three apex predators: wolves, cougars, and grizzly bears in Yellowstone. These carnivores, positioned at the top of the food chain and not preyed upon by other animals, had populations that were depleted over time.

The return of wolves to the park in 1995 was concurrent with the natural recovery of cougar and grizzly populations. Their absence for nearly a century had significantly altered the park’s landscape and food web, transforming regions rich in willow and aspen along small streams into grasslands due to intense elk browsing.

Too many Elk, they say. But they didn’t think that way when they were throwing bales of hay over the fences to the Elk when they thought they needed feeding in particularly harsh winters, causing the Elk not even to return to Yellowstone (when you’ve got a handout, why leave?).

But why are grasslands bad? The rewilders believe that trees are a more productive means of carbon reduction. But is that correct?

Forests have long served as a critical carbon sink, consuming about a quarter of the carbon dioxide pollution produced by humans worldwide. But decades of fire suppression, warming temperatures and drought have increased wildfire risks — turning California’s forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources.

Well, we’ve discussed the stupidity of fighting forest fires before, but let’s continue.

A study from the University of California, Davis, found that grasslands and rangelands are more resilient carbon sinks than forests in 21st century California. As such, the study indicates they should be given opportunities in the state’s cap-and-and trade market, which is designed to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

So if the rewilders are wrong, does it matter? Not to them. It’s an evolving religion, you see.  And even the most absurd claims can be made on behalf of carbon sinks and the environment.

An unscientific bias against “feral” or “invasive” animals threatens to undercut one of the great stabilizing trends making ecosystems healthier, a new paper argues.

Introduced species such as feral pigs, horses, donkeys and camels represent a powerful force of “rewilding”  — the reintroduction of wild animals into ecosystems where humans had eradicated them — according to a study published Thursday in Science.

The study argues against widely held beliefs about whether invasive species are harmful — or what Lundgren described as the quasi-religious perception that some species inherently belong in a given landscape and others don’t.

That belief is the driving force behind a wave of expensive and often futile campaigns since the 1990s that eradicate species including feral hogs in Texas, wild horses across the American West and donkeys and camels in Australia.

We’ve discussed feral hogs at great length here on these pages.  Feral hogs adversely affect water quality, attack pets, destroy the environment they are a part of, dig up crops, spread diseases and parasites that only they can carry,

What do wild hogs do that’s so bad?

Oh, not much. They just eat the eggs of the sea turtle, an endangered species, on barrier islands off the East Coast, and root up rare and diverse species of plants all over, and contribute to the replacement of those plants by weedy, invasive species, and promote erosion, and undermine roadbeds and bridges with their rooting, and push expensive horses away from food stations in pastures in Georgia, and inflict tusk marks on the legs of these horses, and eat eggs of game birds like quail and grouse, and run off game species like deer and wild turkeys, and eat food plots planted specially for those animals, and root up the hurricane levee in Bayou Sauvage, Louisiana, that kept Lake Pontchartrain from flooding the eastern part of New Orleans, and chase a woman in Itasca, Texas, and root up lawns of condominiums in Silicon Valley, and kill lambs and calves, and eat them so thoroughly that no evidence of the attack can be found.

And eat red-cheeked salamanders and short-tailed shrews and red-back voles and other dwellers in the leaf litter in the Great Smoky Mountains, and destroy a yard that had previously won two “‘Yard of the Month” awards on Robins Air Force Base, in central Georgia, and knock over glass patio tables in suburban Houston, and muddy pristine brook-trout streams by wallowing in them, and play hell with native flora and fauna in Hawaii, and contribute to the near-extinction of the island fox on Santa Cruz Island off the coast of California, and root up American Indian historic sites and burial grounds, and root up a replanting of native vegetation along the banks of the Sacramento River, and root up peanut fields in Georgia, and root up sweet-potato fields in Texas, and dig big holes by rooting in wheat fields irrigated by motorized central-pivot irrigation pipes, and, as the nine-hundred-foot-long pipe advances automatically on its wheeled supports, one set of wheels hangs up in a hog-rooted hole, and meanwhile the rest of the pipe keeps on going and begins to pivot around the stuck wheels, and it continues and continues on its hog-altered course until the whole seventy-five-thousand-dollar system is hopelessly pretzeled and ruined.

Feral hogs have run farmers in Georgia and Texas completely out of business.

But if rewilding is your newfound religion, you can make any claim whatsoever and it’s okay, because mother Gaia.  Or something.

But remember what I told you about mother Gaia.  “The problem with mother Gaia is that she’s a silent nag, a cruel and uncommunicative bitch.  She hasn’t authoritatively spoken like my creator.  So while she may expect you to worship her, she won’t tell you how or why.  So the advocates of carbon-free footprint, depopulation, and rewilding, just make it up as they go, spending massive sums of money on things that end up doing more harm than good.”

Prior:

Canadian Super Pigs Poised to Wreak Environmental Havoc and Spread Disease in Canada

Can Whitetail Managers Take Back Feral Pig Country?

How You Know That Dummies Are Making Suggestions About Containing The Feral Hog Problem

Hogs in Houston

Hogs Are Running Wild in the U.S.

Feral Hogs in Canada

Woman Killed by Feral Hogs Outside Texas Home

Houston-Area Suburbs Now Suffering from Feral Hogs

Hog Apocalypse in Texas

Save the Planet – Buy an AR!


Comments

  1. On February 7, 2024 at 12:21 am, Trumpeter said:

    I remember ’91. The US BLM had gotten so many complaints from Eastern Montana ranchers about prairie dogs that they were ready to start a program to drop poison down every hole in montana. Sportsmen rose up and said, hold on a minute!

    Dad and I spent ten days every summer for ten years shooting prairie dogs and single handed, well both of us, reduced the population to manageable levels. You know this is true because hunters don’t lie like fishermen do.

    Many places in Texas make money from selling hunting trip to shoot hogs. They are going to see to it that hog populations are never eliminated. If you have a hog problem, pass laws that allow sportsmen to solve it instead of restrictions. Not only will we do it for free, we will spend our money in your community while we do it.

  2. On February 7, 2024 at 6:23 am, Chris said:

    We’ve got coyote problems here in NE Appalachia, which we manage in our area fairly well. The state has decided to re introduce fishers. They’ve already become a problem, taking down fawns and decimating the wild turkey flocks.
    They have a short season for them and you’re only allowed 1, and it’s a short season requiring a stamp from the king. I haven’t seen one in 3 decades or more. Now they are everywhere. SSS. Problem solved.
    CIII

  3. On February 7, 2024 at 11:44 am, Matt said:

    I need to talk to my local guy offering hog hunts from a helicopter.

  4. On February 7, 2024 at 1:22 pm, Paul B. said:

    As a land owner and livestock producer in Colorado I object on these grounds.
    The wildlife hunting and reintroduction situations in Colorado must be stopped. Our state allows for Ballot initiatives to be brought forth at election cycles. Unfortunately, the majority of the Colorado population resides in the Front Range (Denver, Boulder, Ft. Collins, and Colorado Springs). These state residents have little to no knowledge of the day-to-day operations of rural areas and are easily swayed into voting with their hearts, not their minds. It is past time that we get our own initiative on the ballot that only wildlife scientist and biologists can make these decisions.
    Ballot Initiatives
    By using the ballot initiative process, the lovely bunny huggers of our state, eliminated our spring bear hunts years ago. They are now coming after bobcat, Lynx, and mountain lion hunts, never mind that Lynx are reintroduced and are federally protected. And now for the big one, they voted in wolves. Our Colorado Parks and Wildlife was all in a flutter over how fast they could get them here. Folks don’t tend to realize that the upper management teams in this division are appointed by our ever-benevolent governor. So yes, they are all on the same side, meaning against the conservatives of our state.
    Elk
    This is the fun, sad, or depressing one depending on your point of view. This past winter (2022 – 2023) was devastating to the elk herd in northwest Colorado and southwestern Wyoming. In Colorado the trophy units, 1, 2, and 201 were wiped out. The skulls coming out of there this past summer were impressive and sad. It will take a decade or more to recover. And these units require 21 or more preference points to draw a hunt, (meaning you must put in for the draw each year to earn a point) and now the best you will find are spike bulls. And to add to the fun, some straggler wolves (4) have moved in from Wyoming into the Yampa and White River valleys. So, the remnant elk herd is getting thinned out now by our new additions. And what is our Colorado Parks and Wildlife response? They cut tag numbers, but they can’t cut too deep. You must consider that out-of-state tags represent a huge portion of their budget. An out-of-state elk tag is well over $1000 now with the additional fees. Another fun fact. The introduced wolves all have collars. When and if a collar goes dark (does not move to the animal being dead), all cell phones in the area will be traced and geolocated by vicinity to the animal. The learning curve is steep on this one!
    Now getting the funds reimbursed from a wolf attack on your livestock. Good luck. Unless you are standing there recording the attack, have a biologist next to you along with a Parks official you are out of luck. This is by design as they place no value to our industry and way of life. We are the great unwashed!

  5. On February 10, 2024 at 4:47 pm, Archer said:

    I keep a few hogs (domestic, not feral) for meat, and let me set the record straight for anyone who might think otherwise: they destroy and devour every trace of organic matter they can reach.

    They have a large-ish pen for the number of hogs I have and I feed them well, but there’s not one square inch that isn’t a mud bog when it rains. They’ve rooted up everything, and dug holes to lie in big enough I have to step carefully when I’m out there.

    And as I said, mine are well-fed. I can only imagine how bad the ground gets torn up when hungry feral hogs have trouble finding enough to survive.

    The destructive power of a group of hogs, feral or otherwise, cannot be overstated.

  6. On February 10, 2024 at 11:58 pm, Howard R Music said:

    Speaking of re-wilding. I hear stories of alligator sightings in north Texas, in some lakes, and on the Red River. My family has been here over two-hundred years, and almost all of them fishers and hunters. I’ve never heard any of them mention gators. Are these reptiles being re-introduced as well?

  7. On February 11, 2024 at 4:16 pm, craig said:

    Maybe we could persuade Governor Abbott to start corralling feral hogs onto trucks and release them in downtown Chicago and Denver and NYC. Would be educational.

  8. On February 13, 2024 at 12:37 pm, Levi Garrett said:

    On my way into the office this morning, the property manager had trapped 10 or so wild pigs in an enclosure about 20 yards from our parking lot. Another fellow was leaning over the railing and popping them in the head with a rifle, one by one. Those pigs tear the ground up wherever they go.

    I don’t buy into the CO2/Climate Change/Cap and Trade hysteria. As the article pointed out, grasslands put way more carbon (organic matter) in the soil – leading to healthier and more resilient soils. More carbon in the soil means better capacity for holding water (drought resistance), increased water infiltration rates, and increased fertility/nutrient holding capacity. Far from killing the planet, good ruminant grazing practices can actually help build better soils over time. The best soils in the U.S. are found in areas of historic prairies, not forests. Additionally, grasslands readily burn, but they burn hot and quick whereas forests will burn hot and long with their larger fuel sources – especially if fuels build up. I would think grasslands would pose less of a serious risk to life and property due to their “flashy” burn characteristics.

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You are currently reading "Learning To Love Feral Hogs", entry #36415 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Animals and was published February 6th, 2024 by Herschel Smith.

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