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Invasion of the feral pigs

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: July 24, 2014

You've probably heard about the problems caused by garlic mustard, zebra mussels and emerald ash borer.

Now Ohio can add another troubling invasive species to its list:

Pigs.

Yep. Feral swine have made their way to the Buckeye State.

So far in Ohio, the problem is mostly confined to the southeastern corner of the state, but wildlife specialists are concerned about the animals’ spread, Ohio State University reports.

The idea of pigs and hogs gone wild might seem funny, but the damage the swine can do is no laughing matter. They can eat and trample crops, root up lawns and forest plants, and outcompete native wildlife for food, according to Marne Titchenell, a wildlife specialist in OSU’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Their wallowing can make soils erode and streams turn muddy.

What’s more, they can spread diseases and parasites to livestock, pets and humans.

How did the swine get here? Some escaped from farms or hunting preserves, Tichenell said. Others were released illegally for hunting.

If you see feral swine, contact the Ohio Division of Wildlife at 800-WILDLIFE (800-945-3543) or wildinfo@dnr.state.oh.us, or use the free Great Lakes Early Detection Network app to report the sighting. The state and federal governments are working to reduce the feral swine population through trapping and shooting, and the quicker Ohioans act, the quicker they can respond.

You can read more about the issue in Ohio State’s fact sheet on feral swine or eXtension’s feral hogs website.

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