Not as many hogs wild in Kansas

It’s not easy being a feral hog in Kansas…Curran Salter is out to get them. Salter, a U.S. Department of Agriculture biologist, has the job of working to eradicate Kansas’ wild pigs. The Hoisington resident offers the following facts.

- Nationwide there are an estimated 5 million feral hogs, and the population doubles about every 6-8 years. It’s estimated they do at least $1.6 billion in damage every year.

- Texas has the most of any state, with an estimated 2.6 million hogs, where they do an estimated $52 million in annual damage.

- Damage includes destruction to cropfields and pastures, wildlife habitat, lawns, golf courses and by diseases passed to domestic animals.

- Today’s wild pigs are basically domestic swine that have gone feral. Within about three generations in the wild, domestic swine will have the characteristics of wild pigs – slim hams, powerful shoulders, straight tails…

- Spanish explorers are responsible for the first domestic hogs escaping into the wild in the 1500s. People trapping and transplanting live feral hogs to new areas, hoping to create populations for hunting, has lead to some major range expansion. Currently most states have wild hog populations.

- Kansas is the only state successfully controlling their wild hog population. Salter estimates the state has less than 1,000 feral hogs. Most of those are in Bourbon County, where a few landowners aren’t allowing Salter and others to work at reducing populations on their lands. Still, they do at least $250,000 in damage annually in our state.

-Since 2006, about 2,500 wild hogs have been killed in Kansas. About half were shot by aerial gunning from helicopters, the others were trapped or shot from the ground by Salter or other biologists. About 300 feral pigs were killed at Fort Riley about 15 years ago. None have been seen on the property since 2000.

-Salter credits Kansas laws that forbid sport hunting for wild hogs for reducing the numbers of pigs released by individuals. It’s also helped eradication efforts since sport hunting generally scatters wild swine and makes them difficult to find for aerial gunning or trapping.

-About 550 Kansas landowners , with about 750,000 acre,s have given access to U.S.D.A. biologists in the eradication process. That’s some of the highest rate of cooperation in the nation.

-Salter said other states are now studying the success Kansas has enjoyed in controlling their feral hog population, with many other biologists referring to our system as “the Kansas model.”