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Manage Feral Swine

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An Integrated Approach

Effective feral swine management uses a variety of techniques to remove pigs and prevent damage from occurring. Whenever possible, the primary strategy for managing feral swine should be removal of all individuals in the social group at once. 

 

Feral swine are remarkably intelligent and quickly learn to avoid hazards in their environment. Pig biology also allows them to multiply quickly; a single sow can produce as many as 24 piglets each year. For this reason, removal of one or a few pigs at a time does not reduce their population, and tends to make them more difficult to remove over time. 

Because feral swine move across property boundaries to avoid danger, communities dealing with feral swine are most successful when neighboring landowners work together and coordinate removal efforts. Notably, feral swine hunting activities can significantly hamper trapping efforts nearby. For a community to be successful at removing feral swine and reducing the damage they cause, landowners must communicate with one another on the timing and methods they will use.

Trapping

Large corral-style traps that are capable of capturing an entire social group of feral swine at once are the most effective tool for reducing feral swine populations. Corral traps that use live-video-capable trail cameras and remote trigger systems allow a landowner to guarantee that all members of the group are in the trap before triggering the gate to close. Small box-style traps may successfully capture a small number of young, naive pigs, but are rarely successful at reducing populations as individual pigs quickly learn to avoid them.

 

There is no closed trapping season and no bag limits for take, but a free, NCWRC-issued Feral Swine Trapping Permit is required to set traps for feral swine. Individuals that wish to trap feral swine on their lands for depredation purposes can use the Feral Swine Trapping Permit to conduct those activities.

Watch this 5-minute feral swine trapping video to learn how to get started. You can also check out this 10-minute video on the pros and cons of different types of swine traps.

Shooting

Shooting can be an important part of an integrated management approach, especially for lone pigs that refuse to enter traps. Hunting, however, is not an effective tool for reducing feral swine populations. Sport hunting of feral swine creates incentives for illegal releases of swine to new areas, and is not able to remove pigs at a higher rate than they can reproduce. Though hunting can be used to frighten or take individual pigs, any remaining individuals quickly learn to avoid hunters and subsequently become more difficult to remove. Control efforts across the United States have shown that feral swine hunting is associated with dispersal of pigs to new areas and increasing populations over time. Shooting is best used as a secondary tool to remove a dominant pig that is interfering with trapping efforts by keeping other pigs in the sounder out of the trap. Shooting should be done in a targeted manner at a distance from the trap to prevent any remaining pigs from associating the trap with danger.

Going Further

Integrated management can also include non-lethal techniques like fencing and harassment. For a detailed explanation of the methods used for feral swine control, read the Technical Guide to Integrated Feral Swine Management.

You've harvested feral swine.  Now what?

  • Biosecurity and proper sanitation measures are the first line of defense against the spread of disease and should never be ignored. Several diseases carried by feral swine can be transmitted to humans and other animals, so care should always be taken when handling feral swine carcasses. Recommended methods for carcass disposal include incineration, burial at a landfill, or burial on the property the animals were captured.

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