CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Illinois farmers, even those who have experienced no damage to their land or crops, dislike feral hogs and support hog control, according to a new study from the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois.
Feral hog populations were once confined to the southern U.S., but have spread and have now been reported from 42 states. Populations are found in 12 Illinois counties, mostly in southern Illinois.
Feral hogs are known to damage the soil by wallowing and rooting, degrade water quality, damage or destroy agricultural and orchard crops, and carry diseases that are harmful to humans, pets, wildlife, and livestock, according to Craig Miller, INHS human dimensions scientist.
Miller and colleagues analyzed surveys from more than 3,000 Illinois farmers in counties where wild hog populations have been reported and in adjacent counties in southern Illinois and in Fulton County. They also analyzed surveys from 471 farmers in Georgia, where these animals are much more prevalent.
Respondents from both Illinois and Georgia agreed with negative statements in the survey, for example, “Feral hogs are a source of disease.” Over 80 percent of farmers in Georgia and 78 percent in Illinois indicated that they are concerned about property damage by feral hogs. In Illinois, 84 percent agreed that feral hogs should be eliminated whenever possible.
“The distribution and size of hog populations does not appear to affect negative attitudes,” Miller said.
Miller indicated that farmers are not likely to become more tolerant of feral hogs over time as they have with similar wildlife species, such as white-tailed deer, black bears, Canada geese, and coyotes.
The results of this study are particularly important for decisions by wildlife managers about how to control or eliminate feral hog populations. Illinois farmers are opposed to moving feral hogs into states that do not have existing populations for purposes of hunting.
“A hunter may shoot one or two hogs, and the rest of the population scatters,” Miller said.
Instead, trapping and elimination of feral hogs, a common practice in Illinois, is one that meets with farmers’ approval.
Photo Credit: USDA Wildlife Services
Media contact: Craig Miller, 217-244-0691; firstname.lastname@example.org