Skip to main content

'Aporkalypse' now?

By Jana Waller, Special to CNN
updated 2:21 PM EDT, Wed October 9, 2013
Sportsman Channel's Jana Waller after a hunt in the Florida Bayou.
Sportsman Channel's Jana Waller after a hunt in the Florida Bayou.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jana Waller: Many southern states are facing a problem of "Hogzilla'"proportions
  • Waller: Estimate says two to 8 million feral hogs are wreaking havoc in 39 states
  • She says the hogs cause costly damages to property, agriculture and water supply
  • Waller: I fully support any legal method of lowering the population of feral hogs

Editor's note: Jana Waller is host of Sportsman Channel's "Skull Bound TV."

(CNN) -- Inside the city limits of San Antonio, mounds of churned up earth are piled knee high as far as the eye can see. Fresh green grass has disappeared and the only evidence of any shrubs is the exposed roots protruding from the carnage. What looks to be the path of a devastating tornado in America's heartland is actually the result of a small group of feral hogs in the Lone Star state.

Texas, along with many of the southern states, is facing a problem of "Hogzilla" proportions. From agricultural fields and farmland to golf courses and playgrounds, no property is off limits to these chubby eating machines. From 2 to 6 million feral hogs are wreaking havoc in at least 39 states. Texas is said to be home to over half of the country's feral hog population.

Recently, I co-hosted a special series on invasive species featuring the devastating impact feral hogs are having on the residents and livestock of Texas. This "pig explosion" is affecting anyone who drives a car or drinks tap water. In other words -- everyone.

Jana Waller
Jana Waller

The term, "feral hogs," refer to either domesticated hogs that are now wild or Russian boars, or the hybrid of the two. Hogs have roamed the U.S. since the 1530s and were an important source of food for the early pioneers. It wasn't until the 1930s when the Eurasian wild boar was released into the Texas landscape that things began brewing for the perfect pig storm. Given their ability to adapt well to most environments and their breeding capabilities, a pair of hogs can quickly become hundreds. Sows can become pregnant at 6 to 8 months old and are capable of birthing four to six piglets per litter.

In Texas alone the agricultural damage caused by hogs is estimated to be $52 million dollars annually. With millions of hog snouts rooting their way through the Southern states, the problem has grown from an agricultural and rural issue to a suburban nightmare.

As witnessed recently in the Atlanta suburbs, a torn up yard or demolished sprinkler system is a common occurrence. Imagine driving your car into a 500-pound black boar or worse ... a group of them. Hundreds of pig-vehicle collisions occur every year. In some cases, severe injury and death happen.

Along with costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in land, property and collision damage, another scary reality is the effect on water quality. Because hogs don't have any sweat glands they often wallow in creeks and rivers beds to keep cool. Defecating in and around these water sources produce high levels of bacteria. This same contaminated water is often used to irrigate agricultural fields that are growing your family's vegetables.

Huge pigs terrorize neighborhood

Some reports estimate the total damage feral hogs cause annually in the U.S. to be over $1 billion. Whether we're talking millions or billions, the big question looms in everyone's mind: What can we do about it? Is an "Aporkalypse" inevitable?

The first and most important step is to acknowledge and understand the problem at hand. The Invasive Species Council has made efforts to spotlight the problem both at the state and federal levels. With many shows highlighting hog hunting, even on prime time TV, the issue has been brought to the attention of the general public. That poses another question: Whose problem is it? Often people don't care about problems that aren't occurring in their own backyard.

While there's no easy solution, there are ways of helping manage their numbers. Being a lifelong big game hunter, I fully support any legal method of helping lower the population of feral hogs. Hunting and trapping are two of the best solutions.

I've hunted wild hogs in the swamplands of Florida. I've even hunted hogs in Texas at night. The only problem I see in hunting hogs is there are not enough hunters. Pigs are smart and typically more active at night. Hunting pigs is not as easy as one might think. And while hunting and trapping these destructive creatures can be very successful, hunters and trappers simply can't keep up with the population.

Now the thought probably crossed your mind: How about we eat them? Sure, these pigs will never win any beauty pageant but they are wonderful table fare. Butchered into bacon strips and pork chops or barbecued on the spit, they are simply delicious. In my opinion, wild hog meat is just as tasty as common, domesticated pig. In fact, trapped hogs in Texas are often sold to independent buyers who sell these swines overseas to Asian markets. But in order to get them to the dining table we still need to knock them down first.

Personally, I have witnessed the devastation on several visits to Texas while interviewing ranchers and wildlife officials. The severity of the situation hit home after I met a woman who demolished her pickup truck after it collided with a 300-pound boar.

The southern states are the ones most affected by the wild hogs but that won't be the case for long as their population grows. It's obvious this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

In the theatrical release of this summer's blockbuster hit "World War Z" Brad Pitt figured out how to save humanity from a virus. Texas could be in a world of hurt because of their pig population if they don't prepare for "World War P."

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jana Waller.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:26 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Jeff Yang says the tech sector's diversity numbers are embarrassing and the big players need to do more.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Ed Bark says in this Emmy year, broadcasters CBS, ABC and PBS can all say they matched or exceeded HBO. These days that's no small feat
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 9:05 PM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT