Feral hogs (Sus scrofa) are the most reproductively efficient large mammal on Earth, and they can adapt to survive in nearly any environment. Statisticians have estimated that due to the feral hog’s high reproductive rate, 70 to 75% of the population must be harvested to control the population. In Louisiana, hunter harvest numbers are less than half that so populations are growing. Feral hogs are found in all 64 parishes in Louisiana, and Louisiana’s feral hog population is currently estimated at 700,000.
Overpopulation of feral hogs is an issue due to the impact the species has on our natural resources. Feral hogs can:
- Impact wildlife by direct competition for hard mast resources (fruit of forest trees and shrubs, such as acorns and other nuts) and by preying on reptiles, amphibians, ground-nesting bird eggs, and mammals including deer fawns.
- Uproot both planted and naturally regenerated coniferous and hardwood seedlings, and their heavy consumption of hard mast significantly reduces natural forest regeneration.
- Increase erosion and shed coliform bacteria into waterways.
- Heavily impact agriculture, uprooting planted seeds, destroying mature crops and uprooting hayfields making hay cutting difficult to impossible. According to the Louisiana State University AgCenter, feral hogs cause $76 million in agricultural damage in Louisiana annually.
In addition, feral hogs carry several diseases, some which can infect humans. LDWF surveillance testing of over 1,000 feral swine statewide revealed that 5% were positive for the Brucella antigen (swine brucellosis); other diseases found in feral hogs include pseudorabies, leptospira, and trichinosis. People who come in contact with feral hogs should always wear eye protection and rubber or medical gloves and should not touch their face with their hands. Be sure to safeguard against any fluids coming into contact with any cut or abrasion.
Feral Hog Control
Hog control methods used in Louisiana include recreational hunting and trapping as well as daylight and nighttime shooting by private landowners and aerial gunning via helicopter for nuisance wildlife control.
If you hold a valid Louisiana Basic Hunting License, you may take feral hogs (where legal) year-round during legal daylight shooting hours. See current regulations for more information, including taking feral hogs on wildlife management areas and other public lands.
On private property, the landowner, or his lessee or agent with the landowner’s written permission and contact information in his possession, may take feral hogs year-round at night (one-half hour after official sunset to one-half hour before official sunrise). Legal methods for nighttime take include any legal firearm which may be used with or without the aid of artificial light, infrared, or laser sighting devices, or night vision devices. Sound suppressors on the firearm(s) are permitted, but anyone using such a weapon must have a valid permit issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in their possession. Anyone taking part in these activities at night must notify the sheriff’s office of the parish in which the property is located 24 hours in advance of any such activity or immediately upon taking a feral hog. You may not participate or be present during nighttime hunting activities if you have been convicted of a class three or greater wildlife violation within the previous five years or are prohibited from legal use of a firearm or participation in a hunting activity.
Aerial Feral Hog Control Permits authorize permittees to use a helicopter to locate, pursue, take, harass, or kill feral hogs. For more information, contact Melissa Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org at 225.763.8584.
Other potential hog control methods currently being researched include toxicants such as sodium nitrite and genetically-based contraception. In addition, LDWF’s private lands biologists provide technical assistance for managing feral hogs on private lands.
According to a mail survey of deer hunters in Louisiana, 213,300 feral hogs were harvested during the 2019/2020 hunting season. These numbers do not include agency harvest of hogs or those trapped or shot by farmers or professional trappers.
Many diseases that feral hogs carry are contagious to humans, but their meat can be consumed if handled and prepared properly:
- Always wear rubber gloves and protective eyewear when handling raw feral pork.
- Do not eat, drink, or use tobacco products when handling raw feral pork.
- Refrigerate the carcass/meat as soon as possible.
- Cook the meat to at least 165°F.
- Wash all coolers and utensils with hot, soapy water, and bleach.
Transporting Feral Hogs
It is illegal to transport live feral hogs unless you have a proof of registration as a feral swine authorized transporter from the Louisiana Board of Animal Health within the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
- Louisiana Feral Hog Task Force
- Feral Swine in Louisiana: An Overview (LDWF presentation)
- Detection of Feral Hog Impacts to Water Quality and Wildlife (LDWF report)
- Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Feral Swine Transport and Holding Pen Regulations
- National Wild Pig Task Force
- Louisiana State University AgCenter (search “feral hog”)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service National Feral Swine Damage Management Program
- USDA National Invasive Species Information Center Wild Boar Species Profile
- Managing Wild Pigs: A Technical Guide
- Mississippi State University Extension Wild Pig Info
- Texas A&M University Natural Resources Institute Wild Pigs Site