'Feral swine bomb': American feral hog population is ballooning, USDA reports

The feral hog population is rising across the country, leaving many officials bracing for the billions in damage they cause annually.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are about 9 million feral hogs in the country, and that number is ballooning.

The USDA says the hogs cause an estimated $2.5 billion in damage in the U.S. each year.

Dale Nolte, manager of the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program at the USDA, told The Atlantic that population boom is sometimes called a "feral swine bomb."

Feral hogs reportedly reproduce very quickly, causing the population to be increasingly difficult to control.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the gestation period for feral hogs is around 115 days, with an average litter size of four to six hogs. However, under good conditions, they may have 10 to 12 young.

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Police say Christine Rollins, 59, had numerous injuries that appeared to be animal related and suffered serious blood loss.



TPWD says most sow, or birthing hogs, only have one litter a year, but are capable of having two. They become capable of breeding at just six months of age.

"To go from a thousand to two thousand, it's not a big deal," Nolte told The Atlantic. "But if you've got a million, it doesn't take long to get to four [million], then eight million."

Domestic breeds of feral hogs and European wild boar have cross-bred, creating what experts are calling "super pigs."

Feral hogs create a large amount of damage due to the fact that they compete directly with livestock as well as game and nongame wildlife species for food, according to TPWD.

They use rooting and trampling activity for food, causing damage to agricultural crops, fields, and livestock feeding and watering facilities.

In addition to habitat destruction and alteration, TPWD says hogs can destroy forestry plantings and damage trees.

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