[Market-farming] Digging Dogs and Feral Hogs, Anyone?

Kakerby kakerby at aol.com
Mon Feb 4 10:34:00 EST 2013

Richard, interesting that you'd bring up the "birth control" for deer.  That approach, called "immunocontraception", is now being tried in Europe as a way to control the sex hormones in young boars as an alternative to physical castration.  I believe it is also being worked on here.  While I've read about it in the context of use on domestic swine, I'll bet someone out there is working on it as a way to control feral hog populations as well.  It can be a potent control mechanism, even though it doesn't wipe out the population entirely.  I'll have to keep my eyes open for any research along those fronts.  I'll share if I hear of anything.

In the meantime, Richard, do you have any information on whether feral hog hunts actually successfully manage existing populations in your area?  Folks on the pig list who live in feral pig country aren't uniformly convinced it makes much difference.  That might depend on the locale, but some folks are getting pretty desperate that even the hunters can't keep up with the growing populations.  Scary stuff.
Kathryn Kerby
Snohomish, WA

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Stewart <rstewart at zoomtown.com>
To: Market Farming <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Mon, Feb 4, 2013 7:17 am
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] Digging Dogs and Feral Hogs, Anyone?

We are lucky to not have a feral hog/boar problem yet here in Ohio.  

While the idea of hog panels are nice I think it would be difficult to protect 300 acres of property.  It is impossible to do this with deer and would be doubly hard to do it with an even stronger more evasive creature.

Its not pretty but individual feral dogs need to be put down.  We do that.  They pose a threat to human and animal populations (both wild and domesticated).    In tough times we see a whole lot of cats and dogs dropped off in our area.  I figure they think "hey its a farm they'll be taken care of."  We manage to take in some of the cats which are spayed or neutered immediately on our dime.  We call the SCPA on the gentle dogs and put down the bad ones.

We work our deer population with six hunters and their guests.  Hunting rights are in such huge demand around here that we could probably charge rent.  Instead we charge a single doe per hunter (in our region they are allowed 1 buck, and 4 to 6 doe depending on if they are in a rural or urban designated area).  Which works out nicely and I am becoming quite good at making breakfast sausage with a mix of pork fat back and venison and I give it to my workers and neighbors in need if I cannot use it all.

My suggestion knowing several friends that are farmers and have lost portions of managed wooded lots and field crops that the feral pig is a MUCH larger problem than deer or turkey (as a vineyard owner what they think about wild turkeys :)  ) but there is no lack of demand in terms of hunters looking to hunt them.  They are an invasive species and need to be treated as such.

Those that have small plots of vegetable to protect may find it easy to protect them.  Those of us working large amount of land and rebuilding food forests or having to deal with Federal food safety issues as we grwo from small to smallish-medium sized growers will not have such solutions available to us and the single best solution is population decrease.  Feral pigs breed at a rate (on average) of 1.5 litters per year with 5.64 piglets per litter.  The math is astounding. (sourced from University of Texas A&M).  Population decrease is ALWAYS the answer in situations like this be it from hunting, trapping, or chemicals (here in Cincinnati they are giving birth control in the feed for deer to decrease the population).

One of the many reasons why I support the continued education and encouragement of young hunters.  I do not have the time to hunt and rely on them to help my farm and we cannot seem to coexist with most natural predators.

Just some food for thought.

Richard Stewart

Carriage House Farm
North Bend, Ohio

An Ohio Century Farm Est. 1855

(513) 967-1106
rstewart at zoomtown.com

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