- Loud noises, such as blaring horns or dogs barking, can be a very effective way to drive feral hogs away. If these noises prove to be too much of a disturbance or violate local peace disturbance laws, then bright, motion sensor lights are a better investment.
- If your land is small enough to make it feasible, consider investing in a perimeter fence. Keep in mind, however, that this alone may not keep all feral hogs away- they are a very smart and determined species.
- Trapping hogs can be a good last-ditch effort to eliminate them if all other measures fail. If you intend to trap-and-release, call a professional to handle it. These animals are dangerous and should only be handled by experts.
The feral hog (Sus scrofa) is a resilient, invasive species estimated to cause up to 2.5 billion dollars of damage in the United States each year. They could ravage your crops, spear your animals, or come after you if you corner them.
They’re massive, dangerous, and extremely pervasive. They reproduce quickly and seem to keep populating the continental United States where there are an estimated 6 million feral pigs.
Oh, and they’re intelligent. Hogs are some of the most intelligent animals around, and domesticated pigs are thought to be more trainable even than dogs.
What’s more? They are seen as a “mixing vessel species” because they can take on human viruses like influenza and spread them back to us in novel forms. That’s a big risk on numerous levels, partially because hogs are receptive to numerous dangerous viruses.
All of that is a little scary, but what happens when feral pigs start to invade your property? What do you do when there’s a hungry 500-pound hog staring you down on your front porch?
Let’s look at how you can get rid of these tusked crusaders for good.
First, Make Sure They’re Feral Hogs
This might seem silly to you, but there are a number of animals you could be contending with. If you’re not 100% sure, it’s best to verify before you take measures to get rid of them.
Wild hogs are usually dark brown or black and have four tusks, two of which are typically more visible than the others. They might also be a little lighter in color.
Take a look at this exploration of the difference between wild boars and pigs. Feral hogs are also covered with thick hairs and have tails distinct from those of domesticated pigs. Their posture angles their heads downward, and they spend a lot of time grazing or sniffing around for food.
They’ll leave signs behind as well. Look for patches of land that look like they’ve been uprooted. Hogs will dig and root for food, and this causes a lot of damage to the soil.
Hogs also leave tracks a few inches long. Look for two prominent toes with two small impressions from dewclaws on either side of each print.
If you’re confident they’re wild hogs, here are a few steps you can take to scare them off and get them off your property for good.
1. Loud Noises and Bright Lights
Scaring them off isn’t a permanent solution, but it’s imperative that you get them away before you start putting up defenses.
The size of your property will determine the lengths you have to go to for an effective system, but the idea is to have a way to scare them away when they get too close.
Loud noises like horns, dogs barking, gunshots, or even feral hog “stress calls” have shown to be effective for many people. You could simply trigger these sounds manually with a speaker, dog, gun (when legal and applicable), or horn.
If resources allow, you might also be able to set up a motion sensor system that triggers a sound when an animal crosses the barrier. If you’re going to do this, you may want to start with bright lights, however.
Loud horns blaring each time an animal crosses your property line could become a nuisance for you (and your neighbors). Bright light scares hogs and doesn’t disturb the peace as much. Motion-trigger lights should also be a little more affordable than the audio alternative.
2. Fences Around Your Perimeter
When your land is hog-free, a perimeter fence will probably be the most effective option to keep them out. Naturally, some people have vast properties so fencing is a challenge.
Perimeter fencing can be very costly, especially when it’s sturdy enough to deter wild hogs. It might be useful to safeguard key areas with perimeter fencing rather than circumventing your entire property. You could save money that way, and your crops and livestock would be protected.
Still, hogs anywhere on your property can be extremely dangerous so it’s best to defend all of your land. If you have the ability, it would be wise to talk with a fencing business or consultant about best practices to keep your land hog-free within your budget.
The professionals should be able to look at your land and construct the best plan of action. It’s important that there are no weak spots in the fence – Remember, feral hogs are smart. They have problem-solving abilities and they’re strong. They won’t be able to outsmart a well-constructed fence, but they’ll sure out-think a shoddy one.
3. Scent Repellant Ideas
Feral hogs have an exceptional sense of smell. They’re inclined to avoid areas that have a lot of your scent or your dog’s scent, especially if they’ve had negative experiences with you in the past.
If the hogs are entering your area already, however, the group you’re contending with might not mind your scent. For situations like this, hog repellents are available. You might hear these products referred to as “hog scram.”
Most hog-repellent products are environmentally friendly and non-toxic to you and your animals. Professional services can come hog-proof a boundary for you, but it’s also possible to spread the repellent yourself.
It will help if you have a rotary spreader of some kind. Hog repellent typically comes in buckets and is spread along the perimeter of your property. You might also spread it around key areas on your property to deter hogs from feeding in those places.
If administered correctly, the hog scram will make feeding on your property undesirable to feral hogs. It will also make your property smell terrible to them without impacting you all that much. Ideally, they’ll develop a negative association with your land and leave you alone.
4. Capture and Removal
For pesky hogs that aren’t deterred by scram or border fences, you might need to take the next step.
Capturing a hog can be safe and effective if you do things the proper way. Attempting to capture a hog with faulty equipment, on the other hand, can be very dangerous.
It’s advised that you call animal control to remove the animal if you end up trapping one. Remember, feral hogs are dangerous. Setting a trap is safe, but removing and transporting an animal should be left to the professionals.
The first step here is deciding on the type of trap you’re going to use.
Most Affordable: Box Traps
Box traps are wooden traps typically made by individuals. You can purchase the components of box traps in some places, but they’re easy enough to make with materials you might already have.
The nice thing about making the box trap yourself is that you can customize the size. In any case, these traps are designed to capture only one or two adult feral hogs. If you’re dealing with a large population, these are not the best option.
Learn how to make a box trap and see if it’s something you’re comfortable with. The common hog-trapping dimensions of a box trap are roughly 4 feet by 8 feet with a 4 or 5-foot height.
Box traps for hogs typically don’t have tops, however. When there’s no top, you allow larger non-target animals to escape if they enter. Those animals can simply jump out of the box so you don’t have to deal with them.
Hogs, on the other hand, are short and stubby without the ability to leap. The only way they could escape the box trap would be by overcrowding and climbing atop one another.
Best for Small Groups: Cage Enclosures
Cage enclosures are effective for capturing closer to 4 or 5 adult hogs at once. They’re made of sturdy panels and should be upwards of 12 feet long.
Note that larger animals can get enclosed in cage traps and you must handle their removal. Make sure to consider what you’ll do if a larger animal enters the cage. Calling animal control is the smartest option here, but it’s best to avoid these situations altogether if you can.
Best for Large Groups of Hogs: Corrals
Corrals are larger enclosures that can capture big groups of hogs at once. A corral is an ideal trap for anyone who has a significant population of feral hogs around their property.
The challenge is that these are often the most expensive options. You might also have to install the corral yourself. There are different ways to structure feral hog corrals, and those strategies can be more or less complicated depending on size.
This is a useful video for anyone looking to purchase, install, or create a hog corral. Again, when you end up capturing the hogs, it’s then time to call animal control.
A Unified Plan for Long-Term Prevention
The ideas above are all different ways of addressing your hog problem. Ideally, you will use each of the strategies together for a comprehensive defense against wild hogs.
Some form of a trap will capture hogs so that animal control can remove them. Then, a perimeter fence can keep them at bay until the fence gives out. You should also spread hog scram regularly until activity diminishes.
All properties are different, so the ideas above won’t be as simple or applicable to everyone. Still, those are the standard methods of feral hog removal that have shown to be effective.
Doing It Yourself is Possible, and Cheaper
Many of you reading this are probably getting your tools out at this very moment. Living and working on a ranch or farm, you’ve got the skill set to take care of a corral or trap in no time.
On the other hand, some of you might have recently moved into hog country and now you’re panicking. These ideas are expensive, and they might seem very difficult.
Note that dealing with feral hogs isn’t an exact science. Actually engaging with them physically is not something you should ever do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with your strategy.
Think about ways you could get cheap or free materials in your community. Use your imagination on ways to create light or sound deterrents. Think of the most effective location to place a DIY corral.
These are the kinds of things that can save you money and eliminate feral hogs from your property. Plus, you’ll feel pretty good when you come up with your own solution.
Feral Hogs Won’t Be Gone Anytime Soon
Now that you’re ready to start dealing with the hogs, there’s one last thing to keep in mind — they’ll come back.
There are agencies trying to deal with feral hog populations, but they have a long way to go. Even if you remove one group from your land, there will be another one making its way over to you.
That means you have to set up a preventative measure. The fence is the best option, but regular use of hog scram can work great, too. You can also talk to people in your community and see what they do to deter hogs.
Good luck getting your property back under control.
What U.S. States Allow Feral Hog Hunting?
There are a number of states that allow hunters to target feral hogs–a total of 28 in all. Of those, certain ones allow year-round hunting of them. The other states have either outlawed hunting of these beasts, or they don’t have a significant population. The states that allow feral hogs to be hunted, along with the estimated population of hogs per state, are as follows:
- Alabama (250,000)
- Arkansas (200,000)
- California (400,000)
- Florida (500,000)
- Georgia (600,000)
- Hawaii (600,000)
- Idaho (<100)
- Illinois (unknown)
- Indiana (<1,000)
- Iowa (<1,000)
- Kentucky (2,000)
- Louisiana (750,000)
- Michigan (5,000)
- Mississippi (200,000)
- New Hampshire (unknown)
- New Jersey (<1,000)
- New Mexico (500,000)
- North Carolina (100,000)
- Ohio (2,000)
- Oklahoma (1.5 million)
- Oregon (5,000)
- Pennsylvania (3,000)
- South Carolina (450,000)
- Tennessee (unknown)
- Texas (3.0 million)
- Virginia (3,000)
- West Virginia (<1,000)
- Wisconsin (<1,000)
The top 5 states considered the best for feral hog hunting due to their extreme populations are Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/JMrocek
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