Sunday, February 14, 2016

Livestock Predator Identification -- Wild Pigs

Here is the last part in the series covering how to identify what sort of predator attacked and/or killed their livestock. I decided to try to provide you with a fairly brief description of how to do that. I really hope the information below helps you.

First let's talk about the difference between a pig, hog and a boar.

All are descendants of a common ancestor -- the Eurasian wild boar. The term "Wild Boar" is typically used to describe Eurasian wild boar from Europe or Asia.

The term "Feral Hogs" is used in the United States. They are said to have originated from domestic breeds but may be the result of a few or many, many generations in the wild. In the United States, many simply refer to Feral Hogs as "Wild Pigs". 

The Eurasians and domestics gone feral are largely the same species and therefore will interbreed with no problems resulting in all sorts of “hybrids” between the two groups. None of these should be confused with the "javelina," which is a native pig-like mammal found in the American southwest that is not even closely related to wild boars, wild pigs, or feral hogs. 
Some reports place the total damage figure as high as $1.5 billion in the U.S. annually. That is based on a damage estimate of approximately $200 damage per wild pig hog per year and the pig population of 6 million animals.

Approximately 15 diseases can be carried by wild pigs. However, swine brucellosis and pseudorabies are two examples of diseases of concern. Recently while testing wild pigs for brucellosis, researchers at Texas Tech documented the presence of tularemia in a large number of hogs tested. Tularemia can be transmitted to other animals and humans, Pseudo can be transmitted to other animals and swine brucellosis can be contracted by humans.

Wild pigs can be highly efficient predators. They prey on poultry and livestock. And yes, wild pigs will also feed on carrion. 

Wild pig predation on livestock usually occurs on lambing or calving grounds, perhaps partially because of the prevalence of afterbirth. Occasionally, adult animals giving birth are fed upon and killed by hogs.

Young and small animals are often entirely consumed by wild pigs and the only evidence may be tracks and blood where feeding occurred. Missing young and their mothers with full udders may indicate such predation, particularly where this is frequent and no other causes for loss can be found.

Wild pigs feed on carcasses much like bears do although they are not as proficient in skinning them out. They may consume some parts that bears do not, such as the rumen and its contents. Since wild pigs commonly root up soil and vegetation, their presence is usually evident and their tracks are distinctive.

Wild Pigs -- Signs of these Predators:
  • Wild Pigs feed on calves, young sheep and goats.
  • Typically almost the entire carcass is either eaten or carried off and the only evidence may be tracks and blood where feeding occurred. 
  • Tracks of adult pigs resemble those made by a 200-pound calf. 
  • In soft ground dewclaws will show on adult hog tracks.
Perfect Kill Shots:

As with all Livestock Predators:
  • In general predators are rarely observed. Because of this, the accurate assessment of losses to specific predators often requires careful investigative work.
  • One's first move to determine what it was that attacked and/or killed your livestock, one must determine the cause of death by checking for signs on the animal and around the kill site.
  • Check for the size and location of tooth/talon marks will often indicate the species causing predation or at least eliminate certain species from suspicion. 
  • Typically, hair/feathers will obscure the attack site. Some say that ideally, the victim may need to be skinned in order to investigate the attack site properly. 
  • When investigating a kill, always consider the time of day the predator attack occurred. 
  • Extensive bleeding usually is characteristic of predators. 
  • Where external bleeding is not apparent, the hide can be removed from the carcass, particularly around the neck, throat, and head, and the area checked for tooth holes, subcutaneous hemorrhage, and tissue damage. 
  • Hemorrhage occurs only if skin and tissue damage occurs while the animal is alive. Animals that die from causes other than predation normally do not show external or subcutaneous bleeding, although bloody fluids may be lost from body openings. 
  • Livestock losses are easiest to evaluate if examinations are conducted when the carcass is still fresh. 
  • Animals may not always be killed by a throat attack, but may be pulled down from the side or rear. 
  • Blood is often on the sides, hind legs, and tail areas. 
  • Calves can have their tails chewed off and the nose may have tooth marks or be completely chewed by the predator when the tongue is eaten.
  • Tracks and droppings alone are evidence that a particular predator is in the area and when combined with other characteristics of depredation -- it can help determine what predator is causing the problem.

For more on Livestock Predator Identification, please click on any of the following links:

Livestock Predator Identification -- Bears

Livestock Predator Identification -- Mountain Lions & Bobcats

Livestock Predator Identifications -- Coyotes, Wolves, Canine, & Foxes

Complied from various sources. I hope this helps.
Tom Correa

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