Thursday, June 14, 2012

Geauga County's wild hog find worries wildlife officials

Wildlife officials are alarmed that a feral/wild hog was found dead Wednesday along Route 422 in Parkman Township.

The hog weighed between 75 and 100 pounds and was a female, called a sow and which might have been pregnant.

What concerns the Wildlife Division is the implication that where one wild hog exists there may be others, and that could lead to a variety of challenges, wildlife officials say.

Such critters are sometimes vectors of swine-related diseases that can be transmitted to livestock, for one thing, these officials say.

“Each year feral hogs do about $1 billion worth of damage to crops and property,” said Allen Lea, wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division’s Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) office in Akron.

“One of the problems here in Ohio are those who view hogs as a hunting opportunity where we look at them as a nuisance that must be removed from the landscape,” Lea said.

Lea said also that so far no one has come forward to claim the animal though the state wildlife assigned to Geauga County, Scott Denamen, will be conduct a survey to see if any ownership can be established.

It is also noteworthy, says Lea, that releasing a feral hog into the wild is illegal, even if the intent is to establish a huntable population.

Such an act has many negative consequences, says Lee.

“The economic loss and danger to a community is far greater than anything that might come from hunting them,” Lea said.

Lea also said hair samples were taken for DNA testing and which were passed on to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Division.

The test will help wildlife biologists in determining distribution in Ohio and elsewhere, Lee says.

Introduced to the continental United States in 1539, feral swine are rapidly becoming established throughout the country.

It is estimated that wild breeding populations of feral swine are now present in 35 to 40 states with a total nationwide population estimate of 4 million animals.

Texas the most hogs with an estimate of around 2 million hogs with Florida in second with an approximate 500,000 wild swine.

A female wild hog becomes sexually mature in as little as six months of age and can have up to three litters annually, with each litter consisting of up to 10 piglets.

While unconfirmed sightings of feral swine are reported periodically throughout the State, the greatest concentration of verified populations can be found in the unglaciated region of southeastern Ohio.

Currently, known breeding populations of feral swine have been confirmed in Adams, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Monroe, Ross, Scioto, and Vinton counties.

For further information about wild hogs in Ohio visit the Wildlife Division’s web site on the subject at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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