The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has unveiled a new online reporting tool for people to report any sightings of feral swine or their damage to the agency.
Feral swine, also called wild boar and feral hogs, are an invasive species that cause significant damage to plant communities and wildlife habitat, prey on native wildlife, compete with native species for limited food and clean water resources and potentially spread diseases that pose substantial risk to livestock, wildlife, humans and pets.
Commission biologists, along with other members of the N.C. Feral Swine Task Force, are seeking information from the public to better understand the distribution and abundance of feral swine across the state, and to estimate type and extent of damages they are causing.
Reported sightings will help members of the task force determine priority areas where they can focus management efforts.
“Reports we receive from the public will be extremely important for developing a baseline of information, which we will then use to track how feral swine move across the landscape,” said Falyn Owens, the Commission’s extension biologist. “Changes in the reports we receive over time will also provide a measure of effectiveness of feral swine control efforts across the state.”
Opportunistic feeders and omnivorous, feral swine will eat almost anything, including a wide range of vegetative matter. While foraging, feral swine root into and turn up the soil, causing extensive damage to landscaping, stream banks, lawns and agricultural fields. On agricultural and developed lands, they cause an estimated $1.5 billion per year in damages to crops across the United States.
While feral swine eat a wide range of vegetation, they also eat snakes, turtles, lizards, the eggs and young of ground nesting birds like quail and turkey, and white-tailed deer fawns.
Feral swine have the potential to carry at least 30 diseases and nearly 40 different parasites that can affect humans, pets, livestock and other wildlife. Diseases like brucellosis, pseudorabies, foot and mouth disease, and African swine fever are just some of the concerns when feral swine and people or livestock interact.
“Simply put, feral swine are invasive and undesirable as free-ranging animals on North Carolina’s landscape,” Owens said. “Unfortunately, illegal releases continue to supplement the growing population, making control of these destructive animals challenging.”
For more information on feral swine in North Carolina, visit the Commission’s feral swine webpage at www.ncwildlife.org/feral-swine.