Wild boar, eating fallen apples

When Maury County farmer Tommy Tindell went out to check his corn fields one Sunday morning in 2010, he couldn’t believe what he found.

“I had 12 acres of corn in one field and it was gone – I mean completely trampled and destroyed,” Tindell says. “I had another 18 acres of corn across the road, and about half of it was destroyed, too.”

Tindell contacted the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and they confirmed the culprit – wild pigs had literally gone hog wild on his farm, digging up and devouring everything in their path. That was just the beginning of Tindell’s problems. Over the next three years, his farm suffered nearly $40,000 in losses caused by the wild swine. Unfortunately, he isn’t alone.

“Wild hogs are a national problem, but they didn’t become a huge issue in Tennessee until about 2000,” says Chuck Yoest, wild hog coordinator for TWRA. “Before then, the hogs mainly roamed the Cumberland Plateau and the South Cherokee portion of the state. But in the 1970s, there was a lot of interest in the sport of wild boar hunting in Tennessee, and some folks took it upon themselves to stock the hogs in new areas, including Middle and West Tennessee, where previously there weren’t any. That’s when we became more and more concerned with the damage they were causing.”

Tennessee Wild Hogs Infographic

When feeding, wild hogs dig into the ground with their long snouts looking for grubs and plant roots to consume. The effects are often devastating.

“I don’t know where they came from, I just know they showed up one day,” Tindell says. “I’ve talked to neighbors in Marshall County who have also seen them. It’s been pretty rough.”

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Not only do wild hogs destroy crops, they also carry diseases including Brucellosis, which can be transmitted to humans, as well as pseudorabies, which can be transmitted to other swine and can be deadly for dogs.

“We’ve had reports of hunting dogs being exposed through saliva or bodily fluids from the hogs, and those dogs have died,” says Tennessee state veterinarian Charles Hatcher, DVM. “Hunting dogs often fight the hogs, and they can be injured or killed.”

Chuck Yoest, program coordinator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Fortunately, Tennessee’s commercial swine industry has not been affected, but Hatcher says hogs kept outdoors are more at risk than hogs kept in controlled buildings.

“Wild boars have no predators to keep them in check, and they can double their population in a year,” Yoest says.

In an effort to control the population, TWRA created a statewide feral hog hunting season between 1999 and 2010. But illegal stocking and transporting of hogs caused more harm than good, so in 2011 TWRA shifted its focus to trapping and killing the hogs rather than hunting. They are using high tech electronic traps and providing control opportunities for landowners to eradicate hogs on their property.

“TWRA has done an excellent job. They set traps with cameras on my farm, and they have often called me to say, ‘You’ve got three hogs in the trap – go shoot them,’ ” Tindell says. “In 2011, we shot a 450-pound boar, and after we got him, I didn’t see any more for a while.”

Tennessee Wild Hogs Infographic

Nationwide, wild hogs cause more than $1.5 billion in damage every year. The problem has become so big in Texas, Kentucky and Louisiana that hunters are allowed to shoot the pigs via helicopter. Yoest says that’s a tool Tennessee may use in the future.

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Meanwhile, TWRA, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Farm Bureau and other partners have formed a Wild Hog Eradication Action Team (or WHEAT) with three main goals: to stop the illegal stocking and movement of wild hogs, to control and eradicate wild hogs through trapping and killing, and to inform the public that wild hogs are a problem.

“We’re headed in the right direction, but this problem won’t go away in a few years,” Yoest says. “We are seeing small successes, however, and we hope to see the elimination of small pockets of wild hogs over the next 10 to 15 years.”

Tindell hasn’t seen any on his property since April 2013.

Wild hog infographic

“2013 was the first year in four years I didn’t have major damage,” Tindell says. “Between TWRA, myself and neighboring farms, we killed close to 125 hogs in 2013 alone.”

Hatcher says consumers shouldn’t be overly alarmed, as wild hogs are not a public health concern or a direct threat to household pets. That being said, landowners who choose to consume wild hogs killed on their property should “be extremely careful.”

“Anyone handling an infected carcass could be exposed through the blood or reproductive organs. Like any meat product, you need to cook it properly to eliminate disease,” Hatcher says. “There isn’t a food safety issue if the meat is cooked properly.”

Landowners who have seen wild hogs on their property can contact TWRA for educational materials and steps to take.

20 COMMENTS

  1. I would like to know how close the wild hog population has gotten to Montgomery County (Clarksville) Tn? As for my internet research the closest I can find is just south of Jackson TN. and up on the Cumberland Platu between Crossville and Cookville. I would love to hunt and kill one or a dozen of these hogs but I would love it if I can get some help with good locations. I have no issues asking permission from farmers or land owners or public hunting; I just don’t want to drive a long distance and come up with nothing. Any help would be appreciated. And hey take it easy on me, this comment box doesn’t have spell chekc……olo

  2. Its a shame to see all that meat going to waste. Is there anyway a person like me could either hunt pigs for farmers or get 1 or 2 for meat in the freezer.Im disabled but can still shoot a gun or cross bow. Thank you for taking time to read this.

  3. I too would love to join the hunt and kill and keep the meat. I live in Chattanooga and have no property but i would be willing to drive to some hogs. Email me or something if anyone can let me hunt or give me someone to contact to hunt thank you blaketh08@yahoo.com

  4. on property I deer hunt in clay co. tn.-I started having a game feeder damaged,not until some time did I realize it was a hog (375 lb. boar),now I have a trail camera and now there is a larger boar coming in (only under darkness)-I am in process of setting up a m1a with night vision.

  5. billy-tom-blake-it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone close that has some hog issue,land owner can contact TWRA and get an exemption and have your name on that paper,you can then legally hunt hogs anytime-at night-spot light-no restriction on ammo-over a feeder etc..

  6. I live in West Tennessee if any one has a wild hog problem or a hog they would like to see gone I would be glad to help email me at zebrobinson@hotmail.com I would love to harvest some wild hogs and get them off your property.

  7. MY WIFE AND I LIVE IN DECATUR COUNTY TENNESSEE, AND ARE VERY INTERESTED IN HUNTING WILD HOGS ON ANY LAND OWNERS PROPERTY, THAT ARE HAVING THEIR CROPS DESTROYED OR LAND DAMAGED DUE TO WILD HOGS. WE WOULD LOVE TO HELP RID YOU OF THESE PROBLEMS AND HUNT AND KILL THEM. PLEASE CONTACT US IF INTERESTED.

  8. I live in Murfreesboro but will travel to wherever needed, I would love to have the opportunity to help with your hog problem and at the same time help put food on my family’s table. I am a licence hunter and will respect your rules and wishes. You can email me at ksalancik@gmail.com

  9. Same here, very respectful and would love to help someone with a wild hog problem either with bow, gun or pistol. I’m in the Army so shooting straights no a problem and live in clarksville but don’t mind driving. Thanks for your interest. Worm785@yahoo.com is my contact email.

  10. Looking for a farmer wanting to get rid of feral hogs on their property, call or text 1-802-989-3573. Some friends of mine and i want to hunt hogs.

  11. I live in Clarksville, TN and am willing to travel anywhere to help out! Please e-mail me at wagonerml@gmail.com or call/text me at 573-433-0173. I just got back from DFW, TX from killing some hogs and now I got the hog fever!

  12. Hi, I live in Nashville, Tn and would love to help land owners with wild hog problem in Tennessee/Alabama. I am a licensed hunter and will completely respect land owners’ rules and wishes. Please contact me at tndba258@yahoo.com if interested.
    Thanks
    AG (Sam)

  13. I have hunted hogs since 13 my family is from north Carolina very poor and used to depend on the to eat but now that they are becoming a naissance to to people I would love to help land owners keep their land they the way the want and cause as little damage as possible. I have 9 years experience killing hogs and am certainty I help your property get rid of hogs that are destructing your property. My name is Logan Taylor I am original from the hills of Kentucky but now live in middle Tennessee I would love to help it is a passion of mine in no means do I want to make money we can work on a dead hog equals a price I will never charge fro hog I do not kill. I know my grammar isn’t great forgive me Im a county boy nut I would love to hear what kind of land you have where you are see them traps and bait legal feel free to contact me at logant25@comcast.net and 615-829-9309. I can assure you 9 years doesn’t seem that long but being raised bu 3 rednecks uncles and dad I have it under the ropes and all the equipment ready to go today! Give me a call would be happy to come out there I work 40 hours a week but this is what I love to do in my free time Hope to hear from you. Take Care and good Luck!

  14. To Tom Roberson I love hunting hogs and am new to this area if we could talk and you know a place to hunt them I’ll be happy to give you most of the meat, my number is 2563759182 thank you, David pruett

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