Like most of the United States and at least four Canadian provinces, the state of South Carolina has seen a recent dramatic increase in the distribution and numbers of wild hogs in our state. Concurrent with this recent increase has been an increase in the damage that these animals do.
|Fig. 2. Rooting damage by wild hogs can be extensive, even in developed areas.|
|Fig. 3. Wild hogs can be voracious predators of domestic livestock and wildlife.|
Figure 1. States reporting the
Even for states like South Carolina, which have had populations of these animals dating back to the Colonial Period (1500-1700s), comparable local increases in both distribution and numbers were recently detected. Historically, the wild hog populations in South Carolina have been concentrated in the Coastal Plain and mountainous regions of the state; the Piedmont had few if any of these non-native animals. However, like the rest of the nation, the range and numbers of wild hogs have been growing in South Carolina. By 2008, wild hogs had been reported in parts of virtually every county in the state. In addition to the range expansion, the numbers of wild hogs have also increased in South Carolina, almost doubling in number between 2003 and 2011. Much of the recent expansion has been caused by man, either through intention releases into the wild or escaped hogs from commercial fenced enclosures.
Along with this recent increase has been an increase in the broad spectrum of damage that these animals do to both the natural and manmade environments. Reports of problems with wild hogs are nothing new to the Western Hemisphere, with wild hog damage reported as far back as 1505. The Species Survival Commission of the World Conservation Union listed these animals as being among the 100 worst invasive alien species from around the world. The annual economic loss due to wild hog damage to agricultural resources in this country added to the cost of their control has collectively been estimated at $1.5 billion. Wild hog damage can variously include rooting, depredation of crops and livestock, spreading disease, property damage, competing with native wildlife, vehicle collisions, attacks on humans, and more. Wild hogs have also been widely implicated in the declines and extinctions of numerous native species of flora and fauna worldwide.
Scaling the national annual economic loss to the recent number of wild hogs in South Carolina, the damage done by these animals would be estimated to cost the Palmetto State $45 million each year.