Cost-Effective Wild Hog Strategy Saves Habitat and Species

The Takeaway: The coastal management program used a helicopter to quickly cover 39,000 acres and eliminate habitat-destroying hogs.

Feral swine, also known as wild hogs, are very rough on the state’s coastal preserves and the creatures that live there. By the hundreds these hogs uproot and erode soil, degrading water quality and causing invasion by non-native plant species. Some hogs harbor diseases dangerous to livestock and humans, and they feast on sea turtles, marshbirds, and other creatures.

Traditional hunting and trapping of wild hogs is prohibitively expensive and not very effective, so staff members from the Mississippi Coastal Program and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Division arranged for a helicopter equipped with a professional shooter. Traveling 39,000 acres over 26 hours, the shooter killed 268 hogs, at an economical cost per hog of $71.

This success persuaded the state to streamline its wild hog management process on state-owned coastal lands. Project partners are seeking more funds, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture states additional helicopter trips are necessary to lower wild hog numbers significantly. They are also seeking alliances with other conservation-land owners to expand wild-hog capture areas. (2017)

Partners: Mississippi Coastal Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services Division