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Feral Hogs

Feral hogs go by a couple of different names, but any way you spell it they are trouble. They are a prevalent problem throughout Georgia and without proper management will only get worse here in the mountains. They do a lot of damage to farmers’ crops and to homeowners’ lawn and gardens. Let’s talk about the damage that they cause, and what can be done to control them.

Feral hogs can be found in 45 of the 50 United States. It’s estimated that the current hog population is about 6 million in the U.S., with 200,000 to 600,000 residing in Georgia. It’s estimated that hogs do 150 million dollars in damage each year in Georgia. About a third of that is done to homeowners. Nationwide it’s estimated that the annual damage done by wild pigs is $1.5 billion. From these numbers it’s clear that we don’t want their populations rising here in the mountains any more than they already have.

Feral hogs are highly adaptable to a wide variety of environments. The females are capable of having 6 piglets in a litter twice a year. They will consume just about anything that they come across. There are not many natural predators to pigs, and their familial groups keep predators from having access to the young. All of these are reasons for why feral hogs can become a huge problem.

So how can you control wild hogs? There is no silver bullet when it comes to wild hog control. Using fencing to exclude wild hogs from an area is possible but this is really only practical for small areas. Usually wire mesh and electric strands are used.

Due to their adaptability, and destructive nature, lethal control is often the only viable option when it comes to controlling wild hogs. In Georgia you are allowed to shoot wild hogs year round, there is not a wild hog season. Hunting wild hogs with dogs is a popular option, but not a very effective one. You may remove a couple of wild hogs, but the bulk of the family will remain unscathed. Baiting and shooting is also popular. This is more effective than hunting with dogs. The bait will draw in the wild hogs and then you can remove them from a tree stand or on the ground at a distance. The problem with all of these methods is that hogs are very smart. So, if you don’t take out the whole family they will learn to avoid your method.

Trapping is the most effective means of removing wild hogs. Corral traps with drop doors are the most popular. A corral trap allows you to trap a high percentage of the family at the same time and eliminate them all at once. Some of these traps are quite high tech with you being able to activate them from your phone. These are effective, but also expensive. Once you have trapped the wild hogs you must kill them. It is illegal to transport wild hogs. Please abide by hunting and firearm regulations to make sure that you are hunting in a way that is in compliance with the laws.

The Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) covers Fannin, Union, Towns, and Rabun counties. Our SWCD has a hog trap that can be used by people in the district. The purpose of the trap is to assist people in dealing with feral hog problems. If you have questions about using the hog trap contact your county Extension Office, Ryan Talton at rtalton@ucschools.org, or me at Jacob.Williams@uga.edu.