Louisiana’s 30 Million Dollar Pig Problem
When most of us think of pigs we think of a straw house, a stick house, and brick house or Wilbur from the children's classic Charlotte's Web. We don't usually see pigs as a problem. We see them as more of an asset since pigs are where bacon comes from and anything is better with bacon.
Louisiana's pig problem is not the animals we raise for food on our farms. Our pig problem is in the form of feral hogs or wild pigs. These wild pigs are growing in numbers and just like their domesticated counterparts they like to eat. What they like to eat are the same things that we like to eat, namely soybeans, rice, and corn. LSU AgCenter Shaun Tanger tells the Louisiana Radio Network his office estimates there are some 500-thousand feral hogs roaming wild in our state.
Now as those numbers increase, which they're going to our efforts to mitigate the populations are just not able to keep up with how fast they're reproducing, you're going to see more and more interactions with hogs with humans, with livestock.
If you're wondering about hunting this wild pigs. It's open season just about all the time. That means day and night it's okay to hunt these animals. Tanger thinks that in order to really create a decrease in the population people are going to have to have a change in mindset about this creatures.
The next thing might be trying to use them as a food source for restaurants and things like that, like we would with cattle or domestic hogs or anything else.
Tanger suggests that in order to have a real sense of control over the wild pig population their numbers would have to be decreased by 75%. He doesn't think hunters alone can bring that number down. There would have to be other methods such as trapping and poisoning but those methods present their own kinds of trouble.
There is a lot of push back from other areas with respect to other animals or kids or safety issues that people may be worried about. I think it will certainly become a higher profile issue.
Meanwhile the pig population continues to grow. The damage to our crops continues to occur and in some cases the rooting for food that these animals do have even damaged some of our levee systems. It's perplexing problem but one I think could be solved with a couple of new recipes and a marketing campaign for free range pork.