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Feral Hogs

in the United States

A growing threat to Iowa, feral hogs have spread northward and westward over the years throughout the United States. Originating from domestic pigs, feral hogs are either released intentionally or escape confinement. Over time they acquire traits more suited to survival in the wild.



Feral hogs cause extensive habitat and crop damage in their search for food. They will readily destroy acres of corn, wheat, rice, and soybeans, leaving a section of churned soil as if just plowed. Bird eggs and small animals such as young fawns are also eaten.

Feral hogs also spread diseases like pseudorabies and swine brucellosis to wildlife, domestic livestock, and family pets. Pseudorabies is a swine herpes virus and is fatal to livestock and pets. It is not transferable to humans. Swine brucellosis is an infectious bacterial reproductive disease, which can cause abortion, lowered conception rates, and other reproductive problems. Many diseases are transmitted through saliva or other bodily fluids. Some diseases can be airborne, so a hog population within several miles of a farm could potentially devastate its livestock.

They prefer bottomland habitat and are often found near rivers or drainages. Their home range is approximately 8 square miles. Feral hogs are prolific breeders, reaching maturity in 6 months and potentially breeding every 6 months after that. Life span is approximately 4 to 5 years. This reproductive capacity makes population control difficult.

Comparison of Cow, Hog, and Deer Tracks

Private owners and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources are collaborating to control the feral hog population in Iowa. Signs of feral hogs include tracks, rooting, wallows, and rubs. It is useful to know the tracks of feral hogs, which are wider and more square than deer tracks. There are no hunting limits on feral hogs. Signs as well as sightings or kills should be reported to the Iowa DNR. To report a feral hog sighting, please click here.