Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 12

Creature Feature

'Pigs with Wings'
Wild hogs are going hog wild,
with increasing numbers spotted
throughout the Southeast.
by Nancy Henderson

Sometimes, the best-laid plans backfire. In 1999, in response
to a surge in wild hogs in the Appalachian Mountains
and along the Cumberland Plateau, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency established a year-round hunting
season to slow the expansion.
"But that good intention came with bad consequences," says Ben Layton, a TWRA big game biologist. "We
saw a greater spread of hogs across Tennessee in the 11
years we had that year-round hog season than we had
seen in the prior 50 years. It was pretty much just hogs
popping up everywhere. So we scratched our heads and
said, 'How did this happen?'"
The wildlife experts theorized that by granting
permission to shoot the wild hogs, they had actually
prompted farmers to release some of their own for sport
hunting, causing the animals to spread to west Tennessee, other Southeastern states, even Ohio and New York.
"As late as 20 years ago maybe, we had 17 states with
hog populations," Layton says. "Now it's more than 40.
If a hog shows up in the middle of Ohio, well, I don't
think it walked there. The most likely culprit is that
they're pigs with wings."
Believed to have been introduced to the Southeast
by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto-some of
the 300-400 hogs he brought with him in the 1500s escaped and reproduced-over the years, the population
expanded and survived well on its own. Early settlers
often relied on free-ranging livestock, some of which
never came home.
And when a wild boar shooting preserve in the east
Tennessee mountains went out of business, the animals
escaped and started a baby boom in that part of the state.
Wild hogs have no major natural predators and are
12 BlueRidgeCountry.com

opportunistic feeders that devour all types of vegetation and prey. Says Layton: "Basically if they can get
it in their mouth, they're going to try to eat it." They
are smaller than their domestic counterparts-generally weighing no more than 200 pounds, compared
to 400-500 for captive hogs, with the exception of the
800-pound hybrid "Hogzilla" that showed up in Georgia in 2004-and are prolific breeders.
They can also be pretty destructive when it comes
to crops, hardwood forests (they love acorns) and even
suburban yards, where they root around for grubs and
adult insects, turning green lawns into rutted feeding
troughs. In the past, farmers noticed damage to their
cornfields mostly in late summer. Now, says Layton, the
hogs start "going down the row, eating the corn as it's
planted."
The TWRA no longer allows sport hunting of wild
hogs in Tennessee. Corral trapping is the preferred option if a landowner is having problems with sounders,
or groups of them.
Contrary to popular opinion, wild hogs are not naturally aggressive, seldom charge unless their young are
threatened, and are fairly shy around people. Some, particularly those that live near popular hiking areas, have
become accustomed to humans.
"If it's a real feral hog that's been born and raised in
the wild, most of the time they're just going to turn tail
and run when they see you or even smell you," says
Layton. "I can't really tell you how a hog's going to react because I don't really know what the history of that
hog is. But I spend a lot of time in the woods and really
I can't tell you of anybody who's ever walked up on a
wild hog and actually been chased or attacked." 


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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017

July/August 2017 - Cover
Table of Contents
Letters / Worth a Click
Contributors
From the Editor
Mill Creek Stories
Creature Feature
The Good Walk
Mountain Report
Country Roads
Eclipse!
Saluting the Blue Ridge Parkway: A Photo Essay
Mountain High Life: Explorations for Summer
‘Swiss’ Towns in the Mountains
The Strange Post-Biltmore Life of Cornelia Vanderbilt
The Almost-Happened Lost States of the Mountains
Farm-to-Table in Upcountry South Carolina
Festivals & Events
Singing in the Garden
Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - July/August 2017 - Cover
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Table of Contents
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Letters / Worth a Click
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Contributors
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - The Good Walk
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Eclipse!
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Saluting the Blue Ridge Parkway: A Photo Essay
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Mountain High Life: Explorations for Summer
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 38
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - ‘Swiss’ Towns in the Mountains
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - The Strange Post-Biltmore Life of Cornelia Vanderbilt
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - The Almost-Happened Lost States of the Mountains
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Farm-to-Table in Upcountry South Carolina
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Singing in the Garden
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2017 - Cover4
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