The Texas wild boar is one of the most successful species on Earth. With their ability to survive in a wide range of habitats and temperatures, varied diet, fast gestation period, and no natural predators, the only thing stopping the wild boar is humans. Fortunately for humans, the wild boar is a delicious and healthy table-fare, considered a delicacy in many parts of the world.
Wild Boar Terminology
The term wild boar refers to both the male and female species. Commonly called “feral hogs” in Texas, the term wild boar encompasses feral hogs but further details the European ancestry and cross breeding of the pure Feral Hog and the pure Russian Boar. See Texas Wild Boar for more information on bloodlines and ancestry.
- 39 states within the United States have wild boar populations; 4 Canadian Provinces also have wild boar.
- In the United States, California, (wild boar exist in 56 of the state’s 58 counties and can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from woodland, chaparral, meadow and grasslands.), Florida (500,000),and Texas have the highest numbers of feral hogs.
- Texas has around 3 million wild boar and the population is growing; of the 254 counties in Texas, 224 counties have been invaded by wild boar.
- The wild boar has been very successful in expanding its range and increasing its numbers. Its success can be attributed to several factors: free ranging method or husbandry; its Introduction and reintroduction by hunters; later development in arid areas; improved range condition through better livestock grazing practices; and its ability to reproduce quite rapidly. Wild boar populations have also benefited from increased disease control in the domestic livestock industry.
- The normal life expectancy of a wild boar is from 6 to 8 years.
- Although wild boars range in weight from 100-700 pounds (45-318 kgs), the average weight found in Texas is 160 pounds (72 kgs).
- A wild boars’ sense of smell is extremely accurate and strong
- A wild boars’ sense of hearing is also highly developed. It is a common myth that wild boars have poor eyesight. In fact their eyesight is quite strong. Their main disadvantage in the wild is that they cannot raise up to see over grass or vegetation as deer or turkey are capable of doing.
- The male wild boar have what is often referred to as a shield. The shield is scar tissue that becomes harder and thicker with age. The shield covers the male boar, beginning from the neck to the last rib. The shield is generally between 1 and 3 inches (2.25cm and 7.6cm)] thick and protects the male boars during fights with other boars.
- Both female and male wild boar have four continually growing tusks that can be extremely sharp, and may reach five inches before they are broken or worn from use. Tusks are used for defense and to establish dominance during breeding. The upper tusks, or whetters, help keep the lower tusk extremely sharp.
- Wild boar consume both plants and animals and are classified as omnivores
- A wild boar sow will reach breeding age at around 7 months. Sows are capable of having over 1,000 offspring in a 5 year period. The litter size for a sow ranges from 4 to 12; this wide range is a result of diet, genetics, and adequate habitat. A sow that recently left captivity and retains most of its domestic breeding will have visibly larger litters.
- Sows also watch over each others litters. Litters of several sows will be guarded and suckled by one sow while the others are off feeding. Because of this fact it is not uncommon to come upon a single sow with an extremely large amount of piglets.
Wild Boars are among the most destructive nonnative species that exists in North America. Almost six million of them aggressively destroy crops and natural vegetation in 39 states and four Canadian provinces. Approximately half of the US Wild Boar population is in Texas, where they are annually responsible for over $400 million in damages.
Wild Boars are “opportunistic omnivores,” and will eat almost anything. Using their extra-long snouts they are capable of rooting up to three feet deep. The animals are capable of destroying whole fields of sorghum, rice, wheat, soybeans, potatoes, melons, fruits, nuts, grass and hay. Corn farmers have witnessed the Wild boars going methodically down the rows during the night as they eat the seeds one by one.
Texas Wild Boar
- The pure Russian boar is generally light brown or black with a cream or tan color on the tips of the bristles. Its underside is lighter in color and its legs, ears and tail are darker than the rest of the coat. Its bristles are the longest of the three types of wild hogs. Pure Russian boars have longer legs and snouts and their head to body ratio is much greater than a feral hog. They also tend to have shorter, straighter tails. Russian boars are known to have split-end hairs.
- Pure mature Russian boars will weigh around 400 pounds when fully grown at 4-5 years of age.
- Feral Hogs
- Feral hogs are not indigenous to the United States. The ancestors of hogs date back to the Miocene. However it is the conquistadors that are credited for introducing swine to the new world. The swine these men brought with them were domesticated. In the 1930′s the Russian wild boar was introduced to the U.S.
- Feral hogs (Sus scrofa), which are wild swine from domestic ancestry, belong to the family Suidae.
- Feral hogs are not a different species than domestic hogs or Russian boars. In the areas where the Russian boar has been imported for hunting, escapes have occurred resulting in feral Russian crossbreeding – this has led to the Texas Wild Boar.
- The weight of a fully mature feral hog will vary from 200 pounds to over 700 pounds.
- Feral hogs represent many unknowns to biologists, wildlife managers, landowners and hunters. The actual effect hogs have on our environment remains unknown. More research is needed to give a more accurate understanding of the feral hog and its influence on game and non-game species as well as the environment and its ecosystems.
- Texas Wild Boar
- Due to the crossbreeding between the Russian Boar and the feral hog, we now have a Texas wild boar.
- The Texas wild boar is a mix of pure Russian ancestry boars and pure feral hogs. Ongoing studies are being conducted to determine distinguishable characteristics between domestic, feral, Russian and Texas wild boar crosses through DNA testing, skull measurements, external body measurements, coat coloration patterns, bristles and other criteria. Much has been learned, but definite determinants have not yet been developed. Therefore, it should be pointed out that the following descriptions are general and relative.
- In general, a texas wild boar shares feral/domestic characterics and those of the pure Russian boar; these include, longer leggs, a longer snout, and split-end hairs.
- The color of the Texas wild boar ranges from black to red to white with a variety of spotted and mixed colored hairs.
- As discussed on the Meat page, the result of the Texas wild boar is unique in the world – the nutty and sweet taste of the pure Russian boar, with a slight taming of the gaminess, due to the feral hog bloodline.
- The javelina are often confused with the Texas wild boar; however they are an entirely different species.
- The Wild Boar Meat Company does NOT sell javelina meat, as the meat is not desirable nor is there an available market.
- The javelina or collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu), is native to the southwest U.S., but has a different species, genus and family from the wild boar.
- Javelinas are members of the peccary family. There are three different species of peccaries that live in the Southwestern United States down to central South America. The only species found in the United States is the collared peccary, or javelina. The javelina is found in the more arid or semi-arid parts of the Texas, with the largest population in the South Texas brush country, the Trans-Pecos’ desert grasslands, and the Edwards Plateau’s oak-juniper woodlands. Javelina travel in small herds and have a limited home range. In the winter, they are generally active in the early morning and late afternoon. Javelina are largely nocturnal during the hotter times of the year. They primarily eat prickly pear, mesquite beans, lechuguilla, sotol, mast, fruits, and insects.
World-Wide Wild Boar Information
The first boar were introduced from Europe to the ranch San Huberto, near Santa Rosa town, La Pampa Province, between 1904 and 1906, and some escaped into the wild. Further boar were introduced to Neuquén Province between 1917 and 1922, which escaped into Lanín and Nahuel Huapi National Parks (Río Negro Province), and across the Andes to Chile. Between 1924 and 1926, a further introduction was made to Bahía Huemul Ranch in Río Negro Province, from a ranch in Uruguay. In 1931 a pair escaped and spread to Nahuel Huapi National Park (Río Negro Province) and Los Alerces National Park (Chubut Province).
Domestic pigs were brought to Australia at the time of European settlement as a food source, and were transported through out the country by settlers. Initially, the pigs that escaped were associated with human habitation, but eventually feral colonies became established. Their spread is not well documented, but by the 1880s, feral pigs reached such numbers that they were considered a pest in parts of New South Wales.
Today, up to 23.5 million feral pigs are spread across about half of the continent, from western Victoria, through New South Wales into Queensland, and across northern Australia. Isolated populations can also be found on a few offshore islands. Just for comparison, Australia’s human population is only 22.32 million; therefore, Australia has more wild boar than people.
Feral pigs can be a serious agricultural pest. They cause losses of an estimated 20,000 tonnes of sugarcane each year. In some areas, they kill and eat up to 40 per cent of newborn lambs.
Wild boar arrived in Chile from Argentina in the late 1920s or early 1930s. They are present in Villarrica National Park, Palena town, and the Cisnes River, 80 km east of Puerto Cisnes town, and in the forest around Panguipulli Lake (Región de los Lagos).
By 1973, active pig control campaigns were established on Santiago in an effort to increase natural recruitment rates.
By the end of 1996, sporadic control efforts been on-going for 24 years. During that time, 18,903 pigs were removed from Santiago (Calvopiña, J. 1985, Calvopiña, L. 1989, Isabela Project, 2000) and a valuable study on pig distribution, reproduction and territoriality was conducted (Coblentz, B. and D.W. Baber, 1987). However, during the few years prior to 1997, especially from 1991 to 1994, funds were cut back and enthusiasm waned, resulting in dramatic reduction in hunting effort.
The passing of the Special Law for Galapagos in 1998 provided the GNPS with steady and guaranteed funding for its operations. By the second half of the 1990’s, the CDRS had begun to apply global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system technologies (GIS) to field work. With trails, radios and GPS units, hunters could now range freely throughout pig habitat, coordinate their movements with extreme precision, and increase the overall pig hunting effectiveness. Typical of an eradication campaign, as the density of the target species dropped, the effort required per individual removed increased.
Populations of wild pigs seem to be confirmed on at least 6 on the inhabited islands of the Marquesas group and on the uninhabited island of Eiao. They are also present on Moorea, Tahiti, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa and the uninhabited island of Meetia in the archipelago of the Society Islands (Butaud & Meyer, pers. comm., 2007).
Saint-Paul Is. (sub-Antarctic)
Pigs were introduced as a food source for sealers, and contributed to the destruction of seabird populations.
Feral populations of the domestic pig, Sus scrofa are established from farm stock; there are still periodic releases/escapes from farms (Hilton, 2004 in Varnham, 2006). The domestic pig became feral in mid 90s during the collapse of agriculture following the volcanic eruption (Martin, 2003 in Varnham, 2006). They have spread rapidly into the Centre Hills during 2000-2003 (following evacuation of humans from large parts of the island following the volcanic eruptions in the mid 90s) (Hilton, 2004 in Varnham, 2006).
In the mid 1900s, New Zealand conservation practitioners applied mainland hunting techniques to eradicate feral pig populations from small islands (<200 ha, Veitch and Bell, 1990, in Cruz et al. 2005). More recently, poisoning techniques have been developed to control or eradicate feral pig populations in efforts to minimize biodiversity and economic impacts (Choquenot et al., 1990; O’Brien and Lukins, 1990, in Cruz et al. 2005). Hunting and poisoning techniques, often used in combination, now facilitate pig eradication efforts on larger islands ( Lombardo and Faulkner, 2000, Schuyler et al., 2002, Veitch and Bell, 1990, in Cruz et al. 2005).
Widespread and invasive in forest; threatening some rare bird and the endemic herpetofauna; control efforts would require simultaneous stop to re-supply through continued escapes.