Feral Swine in Georgia
Feral swine have become increasingly detrimental in Georgia, causing significant damage to agricultural crops and natural resources throughout the state. The economic impact of damage caused by feral swine in Georgia last year is estimated at $150 million. Feral swine are reported to live in all of Georgia’s 159 counties, likely only trailing the massive feral swine populations in Texas and Florida. Feral swine are one of the greatest invasive species challenges facing Georgia.
GACD, in partnership with local conservation districts across Georgia and other agencies, is leading multiple efforts to address this growing problem and the detrimental impacts to Georgia's environmental and agricultural landscape. The efforts include 1) Outreach and Education, 2) the District Feral Hog Control Initiative, and 3) an Integrated Control Pilot Project.
Outreach and Education
GACD is coordinating a group of agricultural and natural resource organizations in a partnership effort to bring Georgia’s top experts on feral swine together in a series of educational workshops for farmers and landowners across Georgia. The partnering agencies will have hosted six workshops and trapping demonstrations throughout the state with plans for more in 2018.
Topics include disease issues, swine biology, economics, water quality issues, effective control techniques, transport issues, and regulations to be followed by a question and answer panel of experts. Each workshop also includes a feral swine trapping demonstration, led by USDA Wildlife Services.
Partnering agencies for this effort include the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), USDA Wildlife Services, Georgia Association of Conservation Districts, Georgia Department of Natural Resources - Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Department of Agriculture, University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, and Georgia Farm Bureau.
District Feral Hog Control Initiative
In 2017, the Brier Creek Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) initiated a feral hog control program within their district to assist producers and landowners who are experiencing significant damage. The methodology for this program was one the district felt could work with the limited resources that are typically available to SWCD’s. The district's strategy was to equip a local Hog Control Custodian (HCC) with automated trapping and thermal equipment free of charge and enable him to seek compensation from landowners and producers to eradicate feral hogs in the district. Finding a competent and dedicated HCC to become custodian of the equipment and to manage trapping and/or any thermal night shooting operations requested by local producers and landowners is the key to achieving success with this program. Brier Creek currently does not charge the HCC or landowners a fee for use of the feral hog control equipment.
The HCC and landowners needing assistance are free to negotiate an agreed upon compensation for trapping services and/or shooting hogs at night with thermal equipment. This program has been very successful with a single HCC in Jenkins County removing 403 feral hogs from the landscape in 2017. Landowners and producers in Jenkins County report that this program has made a tremendous difference in reducing feral hog damage. Farmers who have been forced to make a decision not to plant peanuts, corn, or soybeans in some of their best soils due to feral hog damage are now considering planting these crops. In 2018, Brier Creek has added a second HCC in their district and in the first 3.5 months of 2018 these two HCC's have removed 378 feral hogs from the landscape.
GACD considers the demonstrated success from the “District Feral Hog Control Initiative” as a model, and efforts are underway to expand this capability to the other SWCD’s across Georgia. In May-June 2018, GACD is providing the necessary funding to expand the program to the Ogeechee River District, and to the Blue Ridge Mountain District in the fall. Over time, the district feral hog control methodology could be affordably expanded to other soil and water conservation districts across Georgia. Additional funding sources are being explored to continue expanding the “District Feral Hog Control Initiative” across Georgia.
Integrated Control Pilot Project
An Integrated Partnership Approach to Eliminating Feral Swine in an Environmentally-Sensitive, Agricultural Area
GACD is leading a strategic initiative to conduct a two-year pilot project, providing operational expertise to landowners for an intensive, integrated feral swine control program on 10,000 acres in Webster County, Georgia.
Focus areas of the project will include disease issues, swine biology, economics, water quality issues, and integrated, effective control techniques. The implementation of the pilot project will also include a series of outreach events with local landowners in the project area. Project partners will conduct a baseline assessment prior to the study to establish what variables should be monitored for the duration of the project to document measurable results from implementation.
The project area focuses on private lands in the Kinchafoonee and Lanahassee Creek watersheds, which are designated as 303(d) impaired streams by Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) due to fecal coliform and sedimentation. Primary land uses of the project area include timber and cropland; certain land parcels are utilized for commercial recreational hunting property.
Partnering agencies for this effort include the following: USDA NRCS, USDA Wildlife Services, Georgia Association of Conservation Districts, Jager Pro, Georgia Department of Natural Resources - Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Farm Bureau, University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, University of Georgia Extension, Lower Chattahoochee River Soil and Water Conservation District, and Georgia EPD. Local landowners and farmers are also included as partners in this initiative.
University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources
Georgia Wild Pigs
The information presented here is intended to educate farmers, landowners, hunters, and the general public on the biology and natural history of wild pigs, the issues caused by wild pigs, and to provide management techniques to control populations and mitigate the ongoing problems caused by wild pigs. At the forefront of our website we want to state that complete eradication of the wild pig in Georgia is improbable. The best that we can hope for is population reduction and control of this species.