A 59-year-old Texas woman was attacked and killed by feral hogs on Nov. 24. According to the New York Times, this is the fifth documented fatal wild hog attack in the country since 1825.
The victim, Christine Rollins, had just parked her car outside of the home of an older couple she worked for as a caretaker in rural Anahuac, Texas. According to the New York Times, she was just a few steps away from the front door when she was attacked in the early hours of the morning.
Hog attacks are rare, the article said. However if wild pigs feel trapped or are defending their offspring, they can become aggressive toward humans and other animals.
Sheriff Brian C. Hawthorne of Chambers County told the New York Times that the tragedy was one of the worst he had seen in his 35-year career. As developers build houses in rural areas of Texas, more wild hogs are coming into contact with people.
The wild pig population in Texas ranges between 3 to 5 million pigs. Experts say that’s a conservative estimate based on a very large and widely distributed wild pig herd that is increasing rapidly throughout the state’s diverse regions.
Dale Nolte, program manager for the USDA APHIS National Feral Swine Damage Management Program, told Farm Journal’s PORK earlier this year that when it comes to removing wild pigs, state wildlife agencies have jurisdiction. However, Nolte’s program provides resources and works with state agencies through wildlife service state directors to develop strategies for removing animals, generally accomplished by trapping or through their aerial program.
“In Texas, for example, the problems are huge,” he says. “We don’t have resources to assist everyone immediately. But state agencies and wildlife service state directors help us identify where to focus the available resources.”
If you are in areas where feral swine are rare, report sightings of pigs – dead or alive – so authorities can monitor and remove animals if possible.
It’s also important to be aware of human health risks from feral swine interaction, he adds. Feral swine can carry several zoonotic diseases such as hepatitis, leptospirosis, brucellosis, and more that can be passed on to people.
“People have suffered severe consequences because of encounters with feral pigs,” Nolte says. “It’s important to know there are risks.”
In addition to human health risks, wild pigs are a huge threat to agriculture, the environment and they can have direct impacts on communities and small towns as more wild pigs enter into urban spaces, impacting turf, homeowner’s lawns, and even golf courses and sports fields.
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