Biological and Health Dangers Posed With Wild Hogs
Photos courtesy of Edmonson County Sheriff's Office:
Darren Doyle, story:
Local officials are warning Edmonson County residents and hunters about the dangers of feral hogs that have been spotted in the county. A feral hog is defined as a pig living in the wild but has stemmed from a domestic breed.
An Edmonson County Sheriff's Deputy said he saw reports of the animals on social media over the weekend and he reached out to friends that supposedly had more information. The deputy said after a few phone calls he discovered several reports of the wild animals, and on Wednesday, he saw one while patrolling on Veterans Memorial HWY (259/101). He said he could not safely make a shot and the hog was able to disappear into the woods.
According to KY Fish and Wildlife, all pigs are an exotic, invasive species when living in Kentucky’s wilds, and they negatively impact the Commonwealth in numerous ways.
The term “wild pig” is used to describe free-ranging swine living independently of humans, according to KY F&W. They are most commonly seen as black or brown due to their hair, but can be a number of colors and combinations.
Wild pigs are also "omnivorous”, which means that they can and will eat almost any organic substance that is available. According to KY F&W, a domestic pig turned loose in the wild will grow hair, can eventually grow tusks, and will root the ground, destroying land, crops, and other property.
Officials say even a small, pot-belly pig will turn feral if released into the wild. They may not grow as large as a regular hog, but just as dangerous.
In a report published on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website, officials said "Threats generated from wild pigs are generally classified into biological, economic, and health-related concerns. "Biologically, wild pigs pose serious threats as they simply out-compete native wildlife for available food and space resources. As a result, it is not uncommon for native game species such as white-tailed deer and wild turkeys to be displaced as pig numbers increase."
The Edmonson County Sheriff's Office is encouraging hunters to kill any wild hog if safe and legal techniques can be used, and is also reminding pig and hog owners that they will be responsible if their animals are either released or escape into the wild. While an accidental escape is not a violation of the law, any damage caused by the animal would fall into the responsibility of the animal's owner. It is also unlawful to possess any wild pig.
The Sheriff's Office said one local farmer reported that a feral hog recently damaged his field by rooting.
According to KRS 150.186: Release of hog or pig into the wild prohibited -- Importing, possessing, or transporting wild or feral pig or boar prohibited -- Accidental escape of livestock exempted. (1) No person shall release a hog or pig from the family Suidae into the wild. (2) No person shall import, possess, or transport in Kentucky any wild or feral pig, Eurasian or Russian boar, or any hybrid of these, whether born in the wild or captivity, which is a Class A Misdemeanor and is an arrestable offense where violators can face stiff fines and penalties.
The Sheriff's Office said that sightings have been reported on Houchin Ferry Road, near Edmonson County High School, in the Mohawk Community, and along Veterans Memorial. If you are not hunting and see one of these animals but cannot safely shoot one, or choose not to, you are asked to report the sighting to the Sheriff's Office at 270-597-2157 or KY Fish and Wildlife at 1-800-858-1549. They also said they would like to hear from anyone that kills a feral hog in Edmonson County.
Officials said that a domestic pig escaping or being turned loose into the wild can become feral in as little as two weeks.