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Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Hunting tag draw
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Lead that bird: Become a better wingshooter

Fight pollution!
Hunting wild pigs helps keep groundwater clean!

Any excuse will do when it comes to doing something you love to do, right? And since I love hunting wild pigs, I just found another reason why I should get out there and hunt even more of them!

In addition to the extensive damage that wild pigs can cause to crops, farmland, ranch land and wild areas, a study has now determined that they have a detrimental impact on water quality! Not a surprise for anyone who has seen a hog wallow, but the study goes beyond that.

It seems that a research project done by the LSU Agricultural Center’s School of Renewable Natural Resources, in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, found that wild hogs were having similar detrimental effects on water quality in 64 parishes in central Louisiana.

According to the report, the research, conducted in 2015, revealed that pathogens were extensive in sampled water bodies on private lands adjacent to Kisatchie National Forest and were regularly asso­ciated with feral hogs. The water at all 40 sites in the study contained one or more pathogens that were potentially unsafe for human or wildlife contact.

Of particular concern in the 40 sites sampled was DNA fingerprinting that positively matched 22 sites with high levels of E. coli in the water with fecal samples obtained from feral hogs both within and outside the areas sampled.

Additionally, salmonella was found at 38 of 40 sites. Both pathogens are considered harmful to both humans and wildlife. Associations were also noted between feral hog presence, heterotrophic bacteria counts (a measure of overall bacteria amount in the water) and microbes that could cause leptospirosis, yersinosis and Klebsiella pneumonia.

For wildlife, the diseases could have devastating effects. Leptospira can cause kidney damage and loss of renal function in squirrels, raccoons and white-tailed deer. Leptospira has caused abortions in white-tailed deer and many other mammals. I’m guessing it would do the same with blacktail and mule deer.

Salmonella can infect wild turkeys and other wild birds resulting in liver damage, severe diarrhea and death. Klebsiella can cause sinusitis and pneumonia in wild birds and turkeys. Yersinia can cause gastro­enteritis in white-tailed deer and raccoons, and severe overwinter mortality has been observed in wild migratory birds.

And not surprisingly, the bigger the feral hog population, the more impact they have on regional water quality, and since feral hogs are known carriers of more than 30 bacterial and viral diseases, including many pathogens than can be spread through contact with water, it’s not a good thing.

Many recreational activities in these areas, including swimming, kayaking and hunting, could put humans in direct contact with these pathogens.

Humans can become gravely ill from some of these diseases if misdiagnosed or untreated. DNA fingerprinting indicated that feral hog family groups were moving or being moved great distances in the region, up to about 30 miles at a time.

The long and short of it is that wild pig populations, when allowed to grow to large numbers in certain areas, pose a real threat to wildlife populations and human health. The fortunate thing here in California, is that there are almost no areas where wild pigs are in large enough numbers to really impact anything other than a small stock pond or spring.

In reality, we are a state of millions of people and relatively small areas of public land where hunting is allowed. Public lands are heavily hunted, so wild pigs are never allowed to gain in big numbers. And private lands are allowed depredation permits where wild pigs can be killed day and night with little or no oversight, so they never really gain in big numbers there either.

So, while a big wild pig population in some states might be a problem, here in California it’s not likely to ever pose a significant threat to any of our water resources. Even so, I’ll do my share in trying to keep the wild pig population down in the state. It’s my duty. And my job as an outdoor writer.

Reader Comments
good article Bill
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