One recurring theme being discussed by hunters across South Carolina is the increasing number of wild hogs.
According to Noel Myers, state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, wild pigs reproduce at a prodigious rate, and that trait is becoming a major problem.
“The (S.C.) Department of Natural Resources puts the population of feral hogs at about 150,000 animals,” Myers said. “Wild hogs can breed when they’re 6 months old, but sometimes as soon as 3 months after birth. Hogs typically can have two litters per year with five to seven pigs per litter.
“Add to that the problem of illegal transportation of hogs into our state, and the number of hogs in South Carolina is likely rise significantly over the next few years. It’s likely we’ll see an increase in vehicle incidents, agriculture destruction and see more evidence of them as predators.”
Myers said wild hogs can carry disease such as swine brucellosis that can be transmitted to humans. He said humans have contracted this disease from handling and dressing wild swine, but only a few cases are reported each year. To ensure safety, hunters simply need to use proper safety techniques.
Myers said that when handling wild hogs, always use personal protective equipment such as protective gloves when hauling or butchering the pigs.
“When properly handled and cooked, wild hogs are safe for consumption, and many consider them excellent table fare,” Myers said. “But when handling, butchering and processing, they can present a hazard. Just be aware of the issue and wear gloves and protective clothing when handling and processing a hog.”