The first documented record of hogs in the United States was in Florida in 1593. Introductions followed in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, which led to established free-ranging populations throughout the Southeast. Free-ranging practices continued until they were outlawed in the mid 1900’s. Populations of unclaimed, wild hogs increased, then spread throughout the Southeast and mid-south states. Today, Texas is home to an estimated two million feral hogs, the largest feral hog population in the U.S. Their numbers are continuing to increase because of their high reproductive potential (one sow can have up to 30 piglets per year) and the lack of natural predators.
Based on sightings, the refuge feral hog population has expanded rapidly since the mid 1990’s and is now estimated to be near 1,000 hogs. More than 150 animals in one group have been observed in refuge fields. The detrimental effects of hogs are visible in every habitat type and pose a serious threat to native wildlife and all habitats throughout the entire 11,320-acre refuge. Refuge staff take actions to help control the population including trapping, shooting, and allowing public hunting. The goal of feral hog management on the refuge is to control the expanding population by reducing their numbers as much as possible. A successful outcome would mean less competition for food, water and space between feral hogs and native wildlife; less habitat disturbance; reduced destruction of nests of ground nesting species such as turkey, mallard, reptiles and amphibians; and less damage to refuge roads, impoundments, streams, and farm fields through excessive rooting behavior feral hogs engage in while foraging for food.
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